Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum
|Dinosaur State Park
|Connecticut State Park|
The park's geodesic dome
|Elevation||187 ft (57 m) |
|Area||80 acres (32 ha) |
|Management||Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection|
|Website: Dinosaur State Park|
Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a state owned and operated natural history preserve occupying 80 acres (32 ha) in the town of Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The state park protects one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Its Jurassic-era sandstone-embedded fossil tracks date from about 200 million years ago.
The Rocky Hill dinosaur tracks were uncovered in 1966, adding to the extensive legacy of fossil discoveries made in the Connecticut Valley since the 19th century. A bulldozer operator noticed the tracks while excavating the site for a new state office building. The site opened as Dinosaur State Park in 1968, the same year its 7-acre (2.8 ha) dinosaur trackway was memorialized as a Registered National Landmark.
- Geodesic dome
The park's 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) geodesic dome (see picture at right) encloses some 500 tracks while another 1,500 remain buried for preservation. The tracks are from the early Jurassic period and were made over 200 million years ago by a carnivorous dinosaur similar to Dilophosaurus. The tracks bear the name Eubrontes, the term for fossilized footprints invented by geologist Edward Hitchcock. The tracks range from 10 to 16 inches (410 mm) in length and are spaced 3.5 to 4.5 feet (1.4 m) apart.
In addition to the tracks, the dome houses life-sized dioramas of plants and creatures, including Dilophosaurus, that depict the Triassic and Jurassic periods; interactive displays; a reconstruction of a geologic foundation; and an exhibit depicting highlights of the unearthing of the tracks in 1966. A discovery room houses lizards, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and dinosaur-related arts and crafts. Rock slabs with other Connecticut Valley fossil tracks, including large four-toed Otozoum tracks with visible skin impressions, can also be seen.
The arboretum's 2 miles (3.2 km) of trails pass through some 250 species and cultivars of conifers, plus collections of arborvitae, chamaecyparis, ginkgo, juniper, katsura, pine, sequoia, and magnolia. Rarer species in the collection include the evergreen southern magnolia and monkey puzzle. The addition of woody plants from Cretaceous angiosperm families has been part of the arboretum's attempt to grow as many representatives of Mesozoic-era plant families as the site's New England climate will allow.
- Events and activities
The park offers educational films, guided trail walks, and lectures. Warm-month activities include footprint track casting and mining for gems and fossils. In August, Dinosaur State Park Day offers games, arts and crafts activities, and live music.
- Connecticut River Valley trackways
- List of botanical gardens in the United States
- List of fossil sites
- "Dinosaur State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Appendix A: List of State Parks and Forests" (PDF). State Parks and Forests: Funding. Staff Findings and Recommendations. Connecticut General Assembly. January 23, 2014. p. A-1. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
- "Dinosaur State Park". Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- "The Trackway at Dinosaur State Park". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
- "Dinosaur Trackway". National Natural Landmarks. National Park Service. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "The Arboretum of Evolution". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- "Footprint Casting at Dinosaur State Park". Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "Dinosaur State Park Day". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
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