DINOSAUR STATE PARK PHOTOS

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

The only dinosaur footprints found at Dinosaur State Park are those of Eubrontes. But, the Eubrontes prints are certainly not the only dinosaur tracks found in the Connecticut River Valley. In fact, these Eubrontes tracks are not even the most common in the valley. Instead, this honor goes to Grallator, a small, narrow, three-toed track. Here is a quote taken from David Weishampel and Luther Young's book "Dinosaurs of the East Coast" describing Grallator:

"Grallator (was a) small theropod footprint 5 to 15 centimeters (2 to 6 inches) long, first documented by Edward Hitchcock in 1858. The three-toed Grallator prints are abundant and widely distributed. Several kinds of Grallator tracks have been named, including G. cursorius and G. tenuis. Both small and large Grallator prints appear at many East Coast localities."

Weishampel and Young go on to discuss the possibility of another familiar New England track actually belonging to adult members of the Grallator stock:

"Often found with Grallator are prints named Anchisauripus ('Anchisaurus foot'), first described by Richard Swann Lull in 1904 as the probable track of the prosauropod dinosaur Anchisaurus ('near reptile'). Specialists now believe that Anchisauripus tracks were made not by a prosauropod but by a theropod, as were those of Grallator. Indeed, it is probable that Anchisauripus tracks-15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inches) long-are the footprints of large individuals of the Grallator trackmaker. The digital formula of the tracks of Grallator, large or small, is (always) ?-3-4-5?."

In his book "The Eternal Trail" Dr. Martin Lockley examins more thorougly the digit pattern of Grallator prints:

"Edward Hitchcock gave the name Grallator to tracks bearing a close relationship with water birds of the family Grallae. Anyone who has seen a well-preserved example of an Early Jurassic Grallator track will agree that 'the fine grained muddy sediments appear to be particularly well suited to preserving the finest details of footprints with exquisite clarity.' The tracks 'exhibit two phalanges on the innter toe, three on the middle, and four on the outer...as in the feet of living birds.' Grallator tracks are narrow and elongate, more like those of songbirds than those made by the widely splayed feet of water birds. Trackways are also extremely narrow with long steps. Such a pattern, which indicates a fast-moving and very erect animal, prompted Hitchcock to name one species Grallator cursorius, indicating a running, or 'cursorial,' ability."

The Grallator prints described above are common throughout the Connecticut River Valley, and are especially prevalent in much of central Massachusetts. Among the footprint sites chock full of Grallator prints is the trackway discovered by amateur paleontologist Gary Gaulin in his Holyoke, Massachusetts backyard. Several pictures of Grallator prints from his tracksite by following this link.


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© 1997 brusatte@theramp.net


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