vol 25 no. 4 TRACKS AND TRAILS a publication of the Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. October - November- December 2009
Donated Rock and Minerals Cataloged for Park’s Collection
This summer, two undergraduate geology students from Central Con- mineralogy course this semester, putting her necticut State University began sorting, identifying, and labeling collec- summer experience to good use. Ken, as tions of rocks and minerals that had been donated to the Park in recent president of CCSU’s “Friends of Earth” club, years. Ken Boling and Ali Steullet came in every week to work on two plans geology field trips around Connecticut large collections containing Connecticut rocks and minerals. with his fellow students. He indicated that he really likes studying rocks and has enjoyed One collection was donated by Phyllis Chester, a long-time collector, the element of surprise when poking through hiker, and environmental advocate, who, upon moving to smaller ac- old boxes full of specimens. commodations, wanted the specimens put to good use. She is a member of the Salem Land Trust and now lives in Uncasville. Another collec- tion was donated by Virgil M. Horn, who collected rocks and minerals while on vacations throughout the Northeast and during many trips as a troop leader with the Boy Scouts of America. After Mr. Horn passed away in 1998, his son Howard Horn, of Rocky Hill, CT, wanted the collection used for educational purposes.
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Horn and Ms. Chester, and the assis- tance of Ken and Ali, the park now has an extensive variety of speci- mens.
Both collections include specimens that will remain in the park collec- tion for teaching and display, as well as some that will be given away to students participating in programs covering rocks and minerals of Con- necticut or Connecticut landforms. In addition, many teachers who par- ticipate in our Landforms Workshops will receive specimens for their classroom collections. Those items given away will include a Dinosaur State Park label listing the name of the specimen, where it was found, and the name of the person who collected or donated it.
During the next phase of this project, new specimens will be added to the Park’s permanent collection; all rocks, minerals and fossils will be Ali Steullet and Ken Boling spent much of the entered in a digital catalog; and specimens will be organized to make summer at the Park, sorting and identifying hun- them more accessible to staff on a daily basis. Several exceptional dreds of rocks and minerals that had been col- specimens have already been incorporated into a Rock and Mineral Box lected and donated by Phyllis Chester and the late that visitors can examine in the Discovery Room. The box includes a Virgil Horn. magnifying glass and booklet with information about each specimen.
Even though they have returned to school, Ali and Ken Winter Vacation Programming continue to volunteer their talents. Ali is enrolled in a The park will celebrate December school vacation week with a “Wild Inside” series of programs that will include animal Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. demonstrations, track talks, films, an animal track booklet Dinosaur State Park craft, and more. Times and additional details will be posted 400 West Street on the Friends website and the DEP calendar. The program Rocky Hill, CT 06067 www.dinosaurstatepark.org dates are December 26-27, 29-31 and January 2 - 3. TRACKS AND TRAILS 2
Exciting New Insights into the Dinosaur-Bird Connection
Several recent news articles reporting new research on the older than Archaeopteryx lays these arguments to rest in a bones of Archaeopteryx may have left many with a false recent paper published in the journal Nature. Anchiornis impression that Archaeopteryx has been toppled from its huxleyi is a small, crow-sized theropod found in Jurassic- perch as the earliest bird. Because of the historic impor- aged rocks from Liaoning, dating to 155 million years ago, tance of Archaeopteryx fossils to our understanding of the 5 million years before Archaeopteryx. dinosaur-bird connection, this new research received con- siderable attention. Despite news reports to the contrary, available evidence continues to support the long-held view that Archaeopteryx represents the most primitive known bird, while new fossil finds are adding significantly to our understanding of the earliest stages of bird evolution.
The latest study, led by Gregory Erickson of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, examined the bone histol- ogy of a juvenile Archaeopteryx. The bones were found to be slow-growing, nearly avascular, and parallel-fibered. Their findings were surprising because the bones were ex- pected to resemble that of modern birds: highly vascular- Anchiornis huxleyi. Drawing by Zhao Chuang and Xing Lia. ized, woven-fibered, and fast-growing. Similar results were found in two others of the earliest known birds: Jeholornis Anchiornis belongs to a group of theropods known as troo- and Sapeornis, suggesting that the Archaeopteryx bone his- dontids. Troodontids, together with dromaeosaurids and tology was typical of early birds. Although these early birds avialans, comprise the group known as Paraves, represent- display many attributes more typical of their non-avian di- ing the closest dinosaur relatives of modern birds. Each of nosaur ancestors, they displayed enough avian attributes to the Paraves groups includes very early examples of feath- have been able to fly. The significance of these findings is ered dinosaurs. The troodontid Anchiornis, the dro- not to undermine the importance of Archaeopteryx, but maeosaurid Microraptor gui and the avialan Pedopenna all rather, to provide new, physiological evidence of birds’ share the unique characteristic of having had four feathered dinosaurian origins. limbs, although it is not yet known if any of these creatures could actually fly. The fact that this same configuration ap- The discovery of numerous feathered, non-avian, dinosaurs pears early in the evolution of each of these groups raises in Liaoning, China starting in the 1990s helped convince questions about the evolution of flight – did early flight in- many that birds evolved from dinosaurs. But these discov- volve a four-winged stage? The presence of bulky feathers eries also created what is known as a “temporal paradox” on the hind limbs also suggests that these dinosaurs may because the Liaoning finds were all from the Early Creta- have been tree-dwellers, because they would not have been ceous Period, living millions of years after Archaeopteryx. able to move very well on the ground. If true, flight may These non-avian, feathered dinosaurs would have to share have evolved from dinosaurs living in trees rather than from an older common ancestor with Archaeopteryx, but no the ground up. Arguments have been made for both hy- feathered dinosaurs pre-dating Archaeopteryx had been potheses of flight evolution, but the recent discovery of An- found. Several vocal opponents of the dinosaur-bird con- chiornis may tip the balance in favor of the tree-dweller nection used this as evidence against dinosaurian ancestry hypothesis. for birds. Finally, the discovery of a feathered dinosaur Hu D, Hou L, Zhang L, Xu X: A pre-Archaeopteryx troodontid The Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. is a non- theropod from China with long feathers on the metatarsus. Nature 2009, 461:640-643. profit organization whose purpose shall be to further the exhibits and educational programs of Dinosaur State Park, and to advo- Erickson GM, Rauhut OWM, Zhou Z, Turner AH, Inouye BD, cate to the public, educators, and the corporate community the Hu D, Norell MA: Was dinosaurian physiology inherited by benefits of the Park. For additional information, call (860) 257- birds? Reconciling slow growth in Archaeopteryx. PLoS ONE 7601. Tracks and Trails is published quarterly. Editor: Susan 2009, 4(10):e7390 Lionberger. Christine Witkowski, Park Naturalist
October - November - December 2009 3 TRACKS AND TRAILS
Geological Society of CT Established
On November 9, the Park hosted the first meeting of a new and vibrant organization, the Geological Society of The large turnout for Connecticut (GSC). Park staff participated with the plan- the first ning committee to organize this event and help establish meeting of the society. the GSC necessitated The primary goals of the Society include the advance- innovative seating when ment of the science and profession of geology and its refreshments related branches by encouraging education, research and were served. service through the holding of meetings, maintaining communications, and providing a common union of its members. The society intends to contribute to the public Events Reach Out to New Audiences education of the geology of Connecticut and promote the proper use and protection of its natural resources. It also To promote the park, staff has participated in several high advocates the advancement of professional conduct by profile events this fall. This was the fifth year a group of those engaged in the collection, interpretation and use of staff and volunteers spent a day at the BIG E in the Con- geologic data. necticut Building. The Board of Directors of the Connecti- cut Building reserves a booth for Connecticut museums and Amazingly, the society already has 127 members. More invites a different local museum each day to acquaint visi- than 100 people attended the first meeting. Attendees tors with their facility and distribute exhibit materials. included individuals working in the environmental con- Unlike most large fairs or expos, there is no booth fee and sulting field, college professors, DEP employees, retirees park staff and volunteers receive admission and parking from various related fields, and geology students. There passes. It gives us the opportunity to see thousands of peo- was a short organizational meeting followed by three ple from all over New England in one day. Our great group speakers. Each presenter covered a different aspect of of volunteers this year included Robert Borello, Betty and Mesozoic geology so the Park was the ideal venue for the Armand Catelli, and Tony DeLuca. Park Staff Christine meeting. Witkowski, Meg Enkler, Tim Walczak, and Christina Grif- fin also worked at the booth. The program featured three speakers. Tony Phillpotts, University of Connecticut, covered The Holyoke Basalt - In addition, Park Manager Meg Enkler participated in the - one of the world's most voluminous eruptions: Implica- biannual Native American Fall Festival at Hammonasett tions about the source and differentiation of basaltic State Park and attended the Connecticut Science Teachers magma. Nicholas G. McDonald, Westminster School Association annual conference. Both events reach out to and Wesleyan University, discussed Window into the potential visitors and promote special programs, such as Jurassic World: Fossils of the Central Valley of Con- those designed for teachers: our workshops and loan boxes. necticut. Peter M. LeTourneau, Renbrook School and Wesleyan University, presented Blowing in the Jurassic Book Signing Opens Holiday Season wind: New discoveries of high-permeability sandstones in Connecticut. On November 8, the bookshop hosted a book signing for the new children’s book Tyrannoclaus. The author Janet This high-energy get-together was a tremendous success Lawler gave two readings in the park’s auditorium and for the first meeting of a new organization. During the signed books all afternoon. The bookshop sold 104 books gathering, the park was able to recruit dozens of volun- at this event. The book is still available, including a num- teers who indicated a willingness to assist staff in our ber of signed copies. It makes a great holiday gift for a outreach to middle school teachers. The GSC plans to young person who loves dinosaurs. Remember, the hold regular meetings and schedule field trips to local Friends’ Bookshop has great gifts for everyone on your geologic sites. If you are interested in joining or learning holiday shopping list. FDPA members receive a 10 percent more about the Society, visit their website http:// discount on all purchases. The bookshop is open Tuesday wesfiles.wesleyan.edu/home/pletorneau/ – Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
October - November - December 2009 TRACKS AND TRAILS 4
Halloween with a Dinosaur Theme Scouting Programs at the Park
This year a new event was added to the park calendar, Hal- Last year, when the first Webelos Geology Badge loween with the Dinosaurs. On Saturday, October 31, all Workshop was announced, it quickly filled to the maxi- visitors 12 and under received treat bags to collect non- mum of 60 scouts. Last spring, the same workshop was edible “treats” scattered at locations throughout the mu- offered again and also filled quickly. The popularity of seum and grounds. These included pencils, “dinosaur the workshop continued this year when the first fall date teeth,” toy dinosaurs, Smokey Bear coloring books, and (November 7) filled and the waiting list swelled to more rock and mineral specimens. Face painting, films, a craft, than 60 scouts! To meet the demand, a second program animal demonstrations, and visits by Smokey and Dilly was scheduled the following week, drawing 50 scouts. added to festivities. FDPA Board member Matt DeBacco brought one of his home- These workshops have been designed for scouts to meet grown pumpkins. Although all the requirements needed to earn their Geology not quite as massive as his Badge. The program includes a fossil station, a geology record setting 2008 pump- station, a mountain building station, a track talk, a vol- kin, it tipped the scales at cano film, and an opportunity to hike the parks trails. nearly 1,100 pounds. All scouts who complete the program receive our unique footprint patch. Feedback from troop leaders Thank you to the many vol- has been very positive. unteers, staff, and the FDPA for assisting with this new Another Webelos workshop will be held in the spring. event. Stacey Shaw, Gina Plans are underway to offer a badge program for girl Menard and Samantha scouts as well. Information about the programs are Wyman provided face posted on both the FDPA and DEP websites. Congratu- painting; Pat Porteous and lations to Park Naturalist Christine Witkowski for put- Susan Kurotsuchi staffed ting together a high quality and innovative program. the craft station where they Many thanks to volunteers Betty and Armand Catelli made dinosaur masks; and for staffing the Rocks and Minerals Station and Albert Albert LePore assisted at LePore and Sally Ryerson for handling the craft area. the mining and casting ar- eas. Staff members Tim Walczak, Lesley DeBacco, and Christina Griffin wore the Smokey and Dilly costumes, much to the delight of our Staffing Update visitors. The FDPA purchased the “treats” for this event. In the future, we hope to expand the event by including more As winter arrives, some of the park staff departs. After activities. two seasons as a Seasonal Naturalist at the Park, Melissa Emma now works at the Kellogg Environ- Track Casts Enhanced with Color mental Center. She created many temporary, but very professional-looking, displays while employed here at Although the track casting area has closed for the season, a the Park. Lesley DeBacco, who held a DEP Summer number of plaster casts are still available for sale in the Maintainer position, will work in the Friends’ Book- Friends’ Bookshop. This summer Park maintainer Wayne shop. Although Wayne Fairchild completed his second Fairchild decided to paint completed casts to make them season as a Maintainer, he now returns often as a volun- more appealing to bookshop customers. As a result, the teer to assist park staff with projects. painted casts sold briskly. Our customers are placing the painted casts in their gardens or on a deck. They are avail- A full-time seasonal maintainer has been hired to work able in tan, gray and a two-tone version. Thanks for your during the winter season. James Celio, who lives in creative thinking, Wayne! Wethersfield, is a graduate of Wethersfield High. Jim has experience in construction and in vehicle and small The mining activity will reopen in mid-April and the cast- engine maintenance. He is a welcome addition to park ing area will reopen May 1, 2010. staff.
October - November - December 2009 5 TRACKS AND TRAILS
Founding Member Remembered New Memberships, Renewals — Friends Make a Difference Homer W. Scott, a founding member of the Friends of Di- nosaur Park, passed away on October 7, at the age of 85. If you would like to attend the Annual Meeting as a Friend, He was born in California, where he earned a bachelor’s you must have an active membership with an expiration date degree from Pomona College. After receiving his master’s no earlier than January 2010. To help you determine the degree from Harvard University, he spent the rest of his life status of your membership, we have coded the mailing label on the East Coast, moving to Connecticut in 1955. on this newsletter.
As an active member of the Friends, he designed and made If there is a date on your label, it indicates the expiration of the molds that are used in the Park’s casting area. your membership. If you have been receiving complimen- tary issues, the label will indicate that. We sincerely hope Homer was always a nature lover and supported numerous that you have found value in our newsletters and we invite organizations including the Sierra Club, the Connecticut you to become an active member of the Friends to show your Horticultural Society, and the Downeast Coastal Conser- for support the Park. vancy. As a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, Homer developed an interest in genealogy. Our volunteers and members of the Board of Directors are not reimbursed for their work and time. All profits from the sales at our Bookshop are used to fund projects at Dinosaur FDPA MEMBERSHIP FORM State Park and purchase materials and equipment that will enhance and improve the quality of visitors’ experiences. Annual Membership Categories ___ Individual $15 ___ Family $20 Please join or renew your membership. Fill out the form on ___Supporting $40 this page. Or, bring your payment to the Annual Meeting. ___Coelophysis $75 Friends DO make a difference. ___Dilophosaurus $150 ___Corporate $250 ___Life (including Spouse) $1500 Join us for the Annual Meeting Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. Name______Address______Sunday, January 10, 2010 Town______4 - 7 p.m.
State______Zip Code______The dinner meeting will be held at the Dakota Steak Phone (____) ______House, Silas Deane Highway, Rocky Hill, CT Email ______Reservations must be made no later than January 7. ___ New ___ Renewal Call Maryanne at the Park Office: 860-529-5816 Amount Enclosed: $______Please make checks payable to FDPA Cost of the dinner is $30 Mail your membership to: per person, however, it will be On the Agenda: only $15 for those whose A review of all the Membership membership is current. 2009 events, and Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. a look at future 400 West Street The restaurant will provide a choice of projects at Dino- Rocky Hill, CT 06067-3506 several dinner selections and a cash saur State Park. bar will be available. The Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Any donations made Have you renewed? are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
October - November - December 2009 Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc. Dinosaur State Park 400 West Street Rocky Hill, CT 06067-3506 Printed on recycled paper
December and January Films New Exhibit
Films are scheduled every weekend A new poster fea- and on vacation days in the Park Auditorium. turing Dinosaurs in Antarctica was Dinosaur 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. created by Chris- Step Into the Early Jurassic 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. tina Griffin, a sea- sonal naturalist at Additional films are shown at 12 p.m. the Park. The ex- December 5-6 Fossils with Bill Nye hibit, which will be displayed through- December 12-13 Early Birds out the winter, is located in the area near the entry to the December 19-20 Earthshakers Discovery Room. December 26-27 Rocks and Soil with Bill Nye December 29-31 Volcanoes All of our new display posters are being created in Power- January 2-3 Eyewitness Dinosaur Point and printed in color on durable stock to allow for fu- January 9-10 Dinosaurs with Bill Nye ture use. The staff plans to change these informative exhib- its more frequently as the collection of posters grows. January 16-17 Flight of the Pterosaurs Thank you to the Friends of Dinosaur Park for making it January 23-24 Horns and Herds possible for us to print such attractive presentations, and to January 30-31 The Legendary T-Rex our seasonal naturalists for designing each poster.
DINOSAUR NEWS: According to the New York Times, dinosaur footprints made 150 million years ago in the bedrock of what is now Yemen have been discovered. Two separate trackways were made by a herd of 11 sauropods, and a lone two-legged plant-eating dinosaur belonging to the ornithopod family that flourished from the Late Triassic Period to the Late Cretaceous Period. Only a few dinosaur fossils have been reported from the Arabian Peninsula.