Dinosaur State Park

I have an intense stretch of field work coming up over the next three months. As a way to take a deep breath before the work starts, we’re taking a quick family vacation to Maine this week. Maine is too far to easily drive there from Martinsville in a day, so we stopped in Hartford, CT last night. This morning we spent a couple of hours at Dinosaur State Park before continuing on our way.

Dinosaur State Park lies in the Hartford Basin, a rift basin associated with the breakup of Pangea and opening of the Atlantic Ocean. In this respect it’s geologically similar to the Danville Basin, which includes the Solite Quarry. However, the Atlantic rifting started in the south first and progressed to the north, so while the Danville Basin deposits are late Triassic in age, the Hartford Basin is early Jurassic.

There’s a chunk of the margin conglomerate sitting in the garden outside the museum. These conglomerates formed along the steep slopes formed by the normal faults that mark the edges of the basin:

The museum at Dinosaur State Park consists of a building erected over a bed of several hundred dinosaur tracks, a small portion of which are shown above. Several species of dinosaurs crossed back and forth over this area after the lake had receded (or had nearly receded); the tracks are superimposed on ripple marks that formed when water covered the area:

There is also a small but well-done display of other fossils found in the basin, all of which represent taxa known from Solite and other Triassic-Jurassic basins along the east coast. Here’s a nice example of the conifer Pagiophyllum:

The bony fish Semionotus:

The coelacanth Diplurus:

Compare to the specimen we found at Solite last month:

So far as I know, however, Tanytrachelos has never been found in the Hartford Basin.

We ended up spending several hours at the park (there are trails and gardens outside, as well as additional trackways). It’s well worth a visit if you’re in New England.

We’re planning to spend the next few days at Acadia National Park; I’ll be posting updates on the geology there whenever I’m able to do so.

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7 Responses to Dinosaur State Park

  1. Doug says:

    Pretty cool. If you ever find yourself in CA, you should see the Alf Museum’s Hall of Footprints. They have quite an impressive collection of fossil footprints, especially from Barstow.

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Barstow footprints should be interesting; what does an amphicyonid track look like?

  3. Brian Beatty says:

    I wish I had checked this earlier, I would have waved to you, Brett, and Tim from across the Long Island Sound (just kidding)…
    I’m glad you are getting a break, you deserve it and will deserve it even more so in about two weeks – YIKES!

  4. Doug says:

    They look something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jobaria/3035847966/in/set-72157602814113331/ But you have to see them in person. the museum has a whole trackway of them.

  5. Doug says:

    sorry, link got screwed up.

    Bear-dog track

  6. Alton Dooley says:

    Excellent track! I was more than half joking about seeing an amphicyonid track. Interesting that the back foot seems to be plantigrade; I think I read a suggestion somewhere that Amphicyon had plantigrade back feet, but I’ve never studied them in detail.

  7. Doug says:

    You were joking? Weren’t expecting bear-dog tracks, eh? Lol. The sign said that the back tracks let that long claw mark because the bear-dog was pushing off his back feet.

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