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Dinosaur Footprints in Md

Congratulations to Ray.

Allan Edels

>From Yahoo:

Amateur Finds Dinosaur Footprints in Md. 
1 hour, 59 minutes ago   Science - AP 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Near the sprawl of the Capital Beltway, an amateur
paleontologist found what he says are the first footprints ever
uncovered of a 6-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur that roamed the Earth
about 100 million years ago. 

In addition to being the first tracks ever found of the dinosaur, the
footprints are the first evidence that members of the Hypsilophodon
family roamed what is now Maryland. 

"It was thrilling, in a sense, because it became a world 'first,'" Ray
Stanford, who has spent 10 years digging in streambeds near the
Interstate 95 corridor, told The (Baltimore) Sun. 

The discovery appears in the latest issue of Ichnos, an international
journal for discoveries of tracks and "traces" of ancient plants and
animals, rather than their fossil remains. The paper detailing the find
was co-authored by geologists Robert E. Weems of the U.S. Geological
Survey (news - web sites) and Martin G. Lockley of the University of
Colorado at Denver. 

The footprints are from a dinosaur that either resembled or was a
species known as Zephyrosaurus schaffi. The species of Hypsilophodon is
known to have lived in Montana during the same early Cretaceous period. 

Zephyrosaur means "lizard of the west wind." The dinosaur that produced
the Maryland tracks has been named Hypsiloichnus (pronounced
HIP-sillo-IK-nus) marylandicus, meaning "trace of a Hypsilophodon from

Members of the Hypsilophidon family walked on their hind legs most of
the time but dropped to all fours to rest, eat or drink. Stanford's
prints each reveal the animal in that position, with a smaller front
foot set just in front of its larger hind foot. 

"I always think of them as the Mesozoic equivalent of rabbits," Weems
said in an interview published Thursday in The Sun. 

Species of Hypsilophodon lived from the late Jurassic period about 150
million years ago to the end of the Cretaceous period and the close of
the Dinosaur Age about 65 million years ago. 

While fossils of the dinosaur have been found in Montana and England,
none had ever been found in Maryland. 

Stanford, 66, said he found the first Hypsilophidon track in the summer
of 2001 while walking a streambed near the Capital Beltway in Prince
George's County after heavy rains had exposed new rocks in its banks. 

"Even from a distance I could tell we had something important," Stanford

The rock bore a larger, four-toed print from a rear foot instead of the
usual three toes, with a much smaller, five-toed print just in front of
it instead of the usual four toes. 

"It puzzled me for a time, until I looked through my dinosaur book that
has the skeletal anatomy. I was astonished. It was a perfect match." 

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