New England is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of dinosaurs, yet some of the first dinosaur remains in the United States were found here in the 19th century. Since 2010, Jurassic Roadshow has been bringing the science, history, and art of the Connecticut River Valley’s dinosaur footprints and trace impressions to street fairs and other events in the region.
Most of the footprints are 3-toed, birdlike tracks in the sandstone of the valley floor, both along the river banks and under the water. Native people had their own ideas about the tracks, of course, but unfortunately, most of these thoughts are lost to us today. European colonists probably saw the impressions, too, but the first-known thorough, scientific investigation began in 1835 in a Massachusetts section of the valley, a few years before the word dinosaur was even coined. The chain of events is not completely clear, but the several discovers of the “fossil bird tracks” left their own traces behind — some leaving lots of evidence in great detail, others, only a tantalizingly incomplete scattering of bits and pieces — so that we can at least sketch out the story.
While the heart of the show remains the same — exhibits and talks by professional paleontologists and knowledgeable amateurs — Jurassic Roadshow shifts its shape to fit each town and venue. Our collectors exhibit a range of local trace fossils, from dinosaur tracks to insect trails, mud cracks to raindrop impressions. Visitors are welcome to touch the fossils and ask questions and are encouraged to bring fossils from home to show them off and learn more about them. We usually have a microscope on hand, too. Art, poetry, history, music, and other activities bring each town’s local character and connection to the geology and discovery of the tracks to the forefront. When we can, we also offer a talk or demonstration by a paleontologist, historian, writer, musician, or artist.
This site looks at the history, art, and science of dinosaur footprints, especially the ones in the Connecticut River Valley. We also have guides for looking at tracks in our region as well as links to great activities for kids and students. You can also always find out where to see us next and see a list of places we’ve been in the past. All this can be found in the drop-down menus you’ll find at the top of each page. Each drop-down has a list of articles in that section.
Jurassic Roadshow is a project of Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (Deerfield), funded in part by a John and Abigail Adams Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and with the welcome support of the Pioneer Valley Institute.Photos by Sarah Doyle. All rights reserved.