A Dinosaur Walks into the Museum

What scientific "detectives" deduced from the biggest footprints ever found

scaffold on dinosaur trail

Left: PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER: the high scaffold "tripod" from which most of the trail pictures were made. In the background below, men are reducing the weight of several sections of slab by chiseling off surplus stone from the underside, preparatory to moving them up a 30-foot river bank where they were to be picked up by truck. Right: AFTER the American Museum specimens were removed, other track slabs were taken for the University of Texas and the U. S. National Museum in Washington. This photograph is not a picture of the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle but just a fraction of the 1200-piece, 40-ton collection of tracks being crated for shipment. Materials used on the job included 1500 burlap sacks, 2000 pounds of plaster of Paris, and 8000 Kleenex tissues (to prevent plaster from adhering to track surfaces).

Roland T. Bird

receding river

ONE of the major vicissitudes associated with collecting fossils from a river bed. When the river rose, dikes broke, and the quarry filled with mud. Most exasperating were repeat performances, just after the quarry had been cleaned. This shows the river receding from a typical five-foot rise, of which there were half a dozen during the summer.

Roland T. Bird

sauropod skeleton

THE SKELETON of a sauropod, approximately the one which left his footprints in Texas mud: Brontosaurus, under whose tail the footprints will be mounted in the American Museum’s new Jurassic Dinosaur Hall. Once living in fresh and brackish water of lakes and lagoons, these creatures floated their huge bulks around in quest of the plants on which they lived, occasionally wading close to shore. That they were sometimes preyed upon by the fierce flesh-eating dinosaurs of the times is known from tooth-scarred bones, as well as from the tracks of a flesh-eater apparently following the trail of one of these huge creatures the whole length of the quarry in the foregoing photo- graphs. The skeleton is over 66 feet long and stands 15 feet high at hips.

Related story: Thunder in His Footsteps by Roland T. Bird

 

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