DEEP: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Announces Dinosaur State Park Day on Saturday, August 19, 2006

August 7, 2006

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Announces Dinosaur State Park Day on Saturday, August 19, 2006

Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints in Rocky Hill

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Friends of Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill announce Dinosaur State Park Day on Saturday, August 19, 2006, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the discovery of 2,000 early Jurassic dinosaur footprints in Rocky Hill. In addition to regular park programs, there will be outdoor activities including: live reptile shows, a live "Birds of Prey" show, clowns, jugglers, music, crafts, games for the whole family with free prizes, face painting and more. The gift shop will be running specials throughout the day.

At 11:00 a.m. there will be a film premier of "Step Into the Jurassic" a new 15-minute informational video about the Park that features local paleontologist Emma Rainforth and students from the Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden. The goal of the video is to bring park guests back into the early Jurassic period when dinosaurs roamed the muddy lakeshores of central Connecticut 200 million years ago. Showtimes will be: 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Dilly the Dilophosaurus and Smokey Bear will be on hand to greet visitors. Food concessions will be available on park grounds on the day of the event. The outdoor programs are free and will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Admission fees for the museum are $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children ages 6-17 and children under the age of 6 are free. In the museum there will be education programs and films throughout the day. These special activities are sponsored by the Friends of Dinosaur State Park.

In August 1966, bulldozer operator Edward McCarthy was excavating a rocky site for a state building. He turned over a slab of gray sandstone and discovered six large, three-toed dinosaur footprints. Officials, local scientists and the media were notified, and the news of the discovery quickly spread. Many more tracks were uncovered and the site was fenced in and guarded. Within a few short weeks, then Governor John Dempsey declared the site a state park. Two seasons of careful excavation resulted in one of the largest on-site displays of dinosaur tracks in the world.

The Parks’ tracks are named Eubrontes, which is the Connecticut State fossil. No remains of the dinosaur that made these tracks have been found in the Connecticut area. However, most scientists agree that the trackmaker was a carnivorous dinosaur similar in size to Arizona’s Dilophosaurus. The park’s trackway, which has been preserved in place, is a Registered Natural Landmark.

Today, Dinosaur State Park attracts over 50,000 visitors annually. A unique domed museum, built directly over the tracks, showcases 500 footprints for public viewing, along with related exhibits, a theater, a gift shop and a demonstration room. The park sits on a 60-acre site and outdoors includes 21/2 miles of nature trails, a butterfly garden, an outdoor picnic area and a casting area where visitors who bring their own materials can make a life-size dinosaur footprint to take home. The casting area is open daily from May-October from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The museum is open to the public year round Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both the trails and bookshop have an earlier closing time of 4:00 p.m. The museum is conveniently located just 1-mile east of I-91 off Exit 23. To learn more, please contact Meg Enkler at (860) 529-5816.