SPECIES: Eubrontes
LOCATION: Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, Connecticut
DATE OF VISIT: August 2000

Like Michael Jordan was the star of the Chicago Bulls, Eubrontes is the star of Dinosaur State Park. Without this track, Dinosaur State Park would not exist. The Dinosaur State Park interpretive center covers a trackway of some 600 Eubrontes tracks, and several hundred others lay buried nearby. These Eubrontes tracks measure a typical 14-16 inches (35-40 centimeters) long. These tracks each contain three long, thick toes, with some evidence of a heel. Eubrontes literally means "true thunder," a phrase which vividly explains these large, heavy tracks. One thing that remains unclear is the maker of these prints. It is known that the dinosaur responsible was a mid-sized, bipedal predator, but the exact culprit is not known. A possible suspect: Dilophosaurus, a predatory dinosaur whose size and stride closely match the Eubrontes prints. Yet, no Dilophosaurus skeletal remains have been found in the Connecticut River Valley area of New England, so this possibility remains a hypothesis to date.

Edward Hitchcock, the great American scientist and President of Amherst College, originally named the Eubrontes tracks. Here is a quote taken from his original monograph on the prints:

"I threw (the print) aside at first, because I could not believe that an impression three or four times larger than that of the great African ostrich's foot, could be a track...For a time I regarded it as the giant ruler of the valley."

In his book "The Eternal Trail," Dr. Martin Lockley compares the Eubrontes tracks to another species of footprint found in the Connecticut River Valley area: Grallator. In fact, Dr. Paul Olsen of Columbia University has suggested that these two tracks represent the same species, with Grallator being a juvenile and Eubrontes the adult. Here is a quote from Lockley's book:

"When we compare Eubrontes with Grallator we find that it is not just a scaled-up version of its smaller contemporary--it is proportionally much wider, the width being 65 percent of the length, as compared with 42 percent for Grallator. Thus, Eubrontes is at least a third wider than Grallator. What do such differences mean, and can they help us identify differences between the track maker that go beyond mere size? Some say that as animals get bigger they generally grow wider at a faster rate than they grow narrower. This is used as an argument that Eubrontes is just the spoor of an adult of the species that made Grallator tracks. But this seems unlikely because we often find lots of small Grallator, a few large Eubrontes, and nothing in between. If they were all growing up together we would expect intermediate sizes. The alternative explanation, seen in the 'hand animal,' in humans and, in brontosaurs, is that species tend to fall into the 'broad' or 'narrow' category."

As you can see from these above passages, there is much to still be discovered on Eubrontes. Yet, the fact remains clear that this one simple print has shaped the paleontology of New England.


© 1997 brusatte@theramp.net

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