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Nash Dinosaur Track Site

594 Amherst Road
South Hadley, MA 01075


Before 1802, the idea that ancient creatures called dinosaurs once roamed the earth was unknown. It is probably true that native Americans saw strange track like markings in the stones along stream beds. However, what they thought them to be is lost to history.In 1802, a young farm boy by the name of Pliny Moody was plowing a field in South Hadley, Massachusetts . He unearthed a stone slab that had strange markings on it that looked a lot like large bird tracks. He took the slab to the educated people of his day, who were mostly christian clergy, to get their opinion on what they were. They declared them to be the tracks of Noah's raven. (Noah, when he was on the biblical ark, sent out a raven that never returned to the ark.) It was thought that the raven finally touched down in South Hadley and left its tracks in the mud. This is what the tracks were thought to be until the 1830's.  In the 1830's they came to the attention of professor Edward Hitchcock of Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts . After some study, he declared them to be the tracks of ancient birds, not the tracks of Noah’s raven. He held that belief until his death in 1865. He is the person who began the study of vertebrate ichnology, which is the study of ancient vertebrate track and trace fossils. He continued to study the ancient tracks in the area until his death, traveling around the Connecticut River Valley collecting what was to later become the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world. In 1841, Sir Richard Owen suggested the name dinosuria for a number of large skeletons found in Europe. However, it wasn’t until after the American Civil War that the concept of the dinosaur became more widespread and popular. It was sometime after this that scientists revisited the ancient “bird tracks” of the Connecticut River Valley and finally declared them to be the tracks of dinosaurs .

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