Preserving the Dinosaur Ledge

by Laurel | December 26th, 2013

26 December 1921

First Dinosaur Footprint

First Dinosaur Footprint
From Holyoke, Massachusetts
1836

Tracks of Animals That Lived Millions of Years Ago at Smiths Ferry, May be Protected

Holyoke, December 25 — The trail of the dinosaur in the Connecticut Valley is to be preserved if present plans are carried out. in the red sandstone of Dinosaur Ledge at Smiths Ferry, on the bank of the Connecticut River, are the three-toed prints and the tall marks of the mammoth reptile that lived millions of years ago. The Chambers of Commerce of Holyoke and Northampton are working on a petition for legislative action looking to preservation of the ledge, by iThe holyokts inclusion in the Mt. Tom state reservation.

Dr. Edward Hitchcock, late president of Amherst College, discovered the ledge, with its two acres or more of reptilian footprints, nearly 50 years ago. Some o the finest specimens were removed and placed in the college museum. Easily accessible from the state highway, the ledge has been visited by thousands and it is desired to protect its markings from damage by vandals and souvenir hunters.

Prof. W.J. Miller of Smith College says that the three-toed footmarks varying from three and four to 15 to 16 inches in length, were mad in flood-covered mud that hardened when the water recede. This was overlaid perhaps thousands of feet deep by successive deposit during the Triassic period. In succeeding geological ages erosion of the overlying strata exposed the tracks again to the light. So perfect were the impressions taken by the mud that ripple marks left by the receding waters are clearly visible.Dr. W. D. Matinew, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Believes the Connecticut Valley dinosaur footprints date back to the beginning of the age of reptiles. During the whole of this age, estimated at 10,000,000 years or more, the dinosaurs were the dominant land animals, as the higher quadruped had not appeared in force. The dinosaurs are supposed to have disappeared eight million years ago.

Relatively few remains have been found of the animals that made these footprints.  Part of a skeleton is preserved in the Yale museum and complete skeletons have been found in Germany. Remains of the dinosaurs of the later Cretaceous period, larger and stranger looking than those of the Triassic, are less rare.

There were numerous species of the Triassic dinosaurs. Some reached a height of 25 feet, according to geologists. Some walked nearly erect on their hind feet, using their long tail as a support. In appearance they are suppose to have resembled gigantic lizards.

the climate of the Connecticut valley when these monsters roamed the earth is said by Prof Loomis of Amherst College to have been something like that of Arizona today, hot and dry, though not tropical. Some of the dinosaurs are supposed to have been carnivorous, while other species subsisted upon plant life.

From The Springfield Republican.
Footprint photograph courtesy of University of California, Santa Barbara.

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