Connecticut (State #24) and Dinosaur State Park

Connecticut was cool. The only major stop I made was Dinosaur State Park (site / wiki)I slept in Hartford (4/29/15) and made my way south towards the park in the morning.

 

In 1966 a construction crew discovered fossil footprints in the town of Rocky Hill, and less than a year later a state park was created around them to preserve the area.

 

The cool part about fossil footprints versus fossil skeletons is that you can understand different parts of the animals behavior with footprints. For instance, they found footprints that had a deep center toe mark with its claw extended and the two minor toes on either side were only lightly imprinted. These odd tracks caused a little confusion until one paleontologist suggested that the dinosaur could have been wading through deep water on its tippy toes. Everyone slapped their foreheads in agreement.

 

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Its fun to line up footprints for a single dinosaur.

 

If you’re wondering how something as fragile as a dino footprint is preserved for so long, I can give you a little insight.

 

Fossil footprints are created under different circumstances than skeletal fossils. Skeletal fossils require the specimen to be buried quickly and completely. Events like volcanic eruptions, landslides, or falling into tar pits lead to skeletal fossils. Footprint fossils start by being laid down in wet silt with the right mixture of sand and clay. Then they have to dry quickly to preserve their shape. Later they go through many cycles of being flooded and dried with each cycle gently laying down layers of soil. This allows the footprint layer to retain its shape while being slowly buried.

 

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This is a footpath in Dinosaur State Park. All the footprints were located within inside the building that was built around them. Not much chance of seeing any out on the trails.

 

I left the park and headed South East towards the coastline.

 

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The architecture out in New England is recognizable. This is an exaggerated example, but it shows you what I’m getting at.

 

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Fully deployed. I was racing daylight to finish dinner.

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