Dinosaur Footprints in Culpeper VA

Luck Stone Quarry

Luck Stone Quarry

The paleontology crew from the VMNH headed up to Culpeper, Virginia to attend a special viewing of the impressive dinosaur trackways of the Luck Stone quarry. These fossils come from a roughly 210-million-year-old mudflat preserved in place and exposed within the quarry.

The Museum of Culpeper History put together a public event where more than 900 people could drive into the quarry and walk alongside the ancient footsteps of Virginia’s dinosaurs. Of course the museum’s paleontologists were on board!  Christina, Ray, Alex, and Sam piled into a van for the fossil fun.

Driving into the Luck Stone Quarry

From left to right: Alex, Sam, Ray, & Christina

Back in the 1990s, the VMNH was actively involved in studying and documenting these remarkable trackways. About 2,000 footprints are preserved across a large slab of siltstone. Many footprints are from theropod dinosaurs, with their characteristic three-toed feet.

Fossil footprint of a theropod dinosaur

Some are even preserved well enough to see the mark of the claw on the big middle toe. The team had a blast checking out all the trackways. Because the footprints are easier to see when they’re wet, the museum provided small squirt guns. How often do you get to use a squirt gun for science?

The mine circled footprints with blue chalk to make them easier to find. Some  also had yellow chalk inside to make the track even easier to see.

The mine circled footprints with blue chalk to make them easier to find. Some also had yellow chalk inside to make the track even easier to see.

These trace fossils are similar in many ways to dinosaur tracks found in the Solite quarry, where VMNH is actively digging. We plan to digitize some of these fossils to not only preserve them from further erosion, but also push them into a new frontier of fossil research using digital fossils.

From left to right: Alex, Sam, Christina, & Ray

From left to right: Alex, Sam, Christina, & Ray

If you ever manage to get to Culpeper, check out the Museum of Culpeper History. They have a few nice dinosaur footprints on display as well as some neat historical artifacts.

Dinosaur footprint on display at the Culpeper Museum of History

Dinosaur footprint on display at the Culpeper Museum of History

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About Alex

I started as the Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in July of 2015. It's been a fun ride so far, with many more projects on the horizion. My background is in fossil reptiles, especially crocodiles and their kin. Here in Virginia, I've also been getting to know the fascinating world of fossil insects, sharks, and the ice age.
This entry was posted in Newark Supergroup, Vertebrate Paleontology. Bookmark the permalink.

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