Artifacts & Documents: Artifacts

Fossil Otozoum Tracks and Raindrops

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Although the track-makers had five toes, Otozoum tracks usually show only four, as the animals were "digitigrade," that is, toe-walkers. These footprints are not as common in the Connecticut River Valley as Eubrontes, Grallator, or Anomoepus tracks, but can be found in multiple sites in the valley and also in the Bay of Fundy, Utah, Arizona, and Lesotho. That they are batrachians, that is, froglike, boggled Hitchcock's imagination:

"Imagine, now, a collection of Otozoums walking or sporting along the muddy shore; animals approaching the elephant in size, yet allied to the frog tribe, or perhaps the Salamanders. At a little distance you can imagine a group of the Gigantitherium family; and still farther on, a group of Brontozoums. Which of these giants would be acknowledged as entitled to the first place, we cannot decide. But should a context have arisen at any time for the supremacy, and these several leaders should have summoned the numerous lesser tribes around them to their aid, it would require another Milton to describe the scene." Hitchcock often mentioned John Milton, Wordsworth, and other poets in his geological writing, which points up the sublime feelings of fear and awe evoked by fossil footprints. Edward Hitchcock, Ichnology of New England, p. 184

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Courtesy of:
Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College, photograph by Penny Leveritt