Daily Archives: September 10, 2012

There’s a dinosaur in town!

Well, okay, not the town I live in. But just down the road. Really.

Hadrosaurus foulkii was discovered, or most of her (him?) was, back in 1858 in a marl pit on a farm near, or maybe¬† in, Haddonfield. (Marl, I’m told, is a type of mud or soft stone rich in calcium – useful in acid-soil areas like South Jersey.) Dinosaur remains had first been noticed as something really strange and unknown about ten years earlier, and dinosaurs were still a bit hypothetical, based on a strange bone here and an odd tooth there. But large chunks of Haddy’s skeleton were still intact and easy to dig up. And nobody had ever seen an animal quite like that.

You can still visit the discovery site – though really, there isn’t much to see there. A plaque and an explanatory sign, a few picnic tables, and a tiny patch of woods, on a leafy dead-end residential street that looks as if no ten-foot-tall lumbering critter would ever have dared stride past the tidy houses to its death.

Or you could go to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where Mr. Foulke, the excavator, worked back in the late nineteenth century. That’s where Haddy’s bones wound up; the hadrosaurus foulkii skeleton on display is a replica, but they have the real bones around somewhere too.

And, if you want a more colorful image, wander into downtown Haddonfield, where a statue stares benevolently (Haddy was a plant-eater) at shoppers and passing cars on Kings Highway, the main street.

And the world goes on changing.