Official Pictorial Souvenir of Dinosaur State Park:
Window into the Jurassic World
August 23, 1966, was an important day for Science.
It was a day that would broaden the understanding and appreciation of Planet Earth by many of its human residents. On that date, Lunar Orbiter 1 transmitted the first picture of Earth taken by a spacecraft orbiting the Moon. That photograph showed a drab, lifeless, cratered lunar surface in the foreground of a bright, dynamic, cloud-draped Earth in the background. It was the first of many satellite photos (Figure 1-1) that would inspire a view of the Earth not just as a collection of peoples and countries, but rather as a constantly changing, fragile but resilient "living planet" that has nurtured life for more than two billion years.
That same day, a bulldozer operator digging a foundation in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, pulled up a large slab of bedrock. His attention was drawn to unusual markings on the underside of the sandstone block. Rather than continuing his excavations, he paused to examine the markings, and brought them to the attention of his co-workers. The markings would prove to be the well-preserved footprints of Jurassic-age dinosaurs, and the site was soon proclaimed to contain one of the largest concentrations of dinosaur trackways in the world. That construction site is now known as Dinosaur State Park (Figure 1-2). Since the discovery of the tracks, more than two million Park visitors have gained a greater understanding of Earth's distant past and the plants and animals that flourished during ancient times, now preserved as fossils. (Pages 2 & 3 are illustrated above.)
Evidence: Life of the Ancient Landscapes
The Mesozoic rocks of Connecticut and Massachusetts reveal evidence of the life and landscapes of Late Triassic and Early Jurassic times.
Although very few late Triassic fossils have been found in the Central Valley, paleontologists nevertheless have a good idea of what plants and animals lived here, based on comparisons with organisms found in rocks of similar age in New Jersey, the American Southwest and elsewhere. The banks of the streams and rivers on the Valley floor were populated by a variety of plants, including conifers, as well as ferns, cycadeoids and horsetails (Figure 5-1, not shown here). The plant life supported numerous large herbivores and other amphibians and plant-eating reptiles. Small carnivorous dinosaurs and crocodile-like reptiles patrolled riverbanks and sand flats in search of prey. Noticeably absent from this early Mesozoic scene, however, were flowering plants, birds and most mammals, for they had not yet evolved. (Pages 42 & 43 are shown.)
Preface, Acknowledgements, Dedication
2. Time and Change—Geologic Time Scale, Fossils and the Record of Life on Earth
3. Birth of a Valley—Climates of the Early Mesozoic, The Rock Record
4. Discovery! Dinosaur Tracks Revealed—The Exhibit Center Trackways
5. Evidence: Life of the Ancient Landscapes
6. Traces: Fossil Footprints of the Central Valley
7. The Arboretum of Evolution
8. Natural Areas and Nature Trails
9. Park Programs
Illustrations Credits and Notes, Reference and Suggested Readings, Glossary, Index