2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


ADAMS, Thomas L., Geological Museum and Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Univ of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 and BREITHAUPT, Brent H., Geological Museum, Univ of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82072, ThoMeladam@cs.com

The summer of 2001 was the beginning of a two-year project to document and study Middle Jurassic dinosaur tracks in the northeastern Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. The Yellow Brick Road Dinosaur Tracksite ( UW V- 2001-001) is a unique resource for undergraduate paleontological research in Wyoming. The purpose of this EPSCoR-supported project was to document the tracks preserved on State of Wyoming public land and to determine what these footprints might help tell us about Wyoming’s Middle Jurassic dinosaur fauna. The Yellow Brick Road Dinosaur Tracksite (YBR) contains thousands of footprint impressions preserved in limestone exposures of the lower Sundance Formation. This tracksite represents a lateral equivalent of the exposure occurring at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite (the largest and most extensively studied dinosaur track locality in Wyoming). At YBR, hundreds of previously unrecorded tridactyl pes impressions of theropod dinosaurs were located, measured, mapped, photographed, and described as part of an undergraduate independent study project. Trackways were analyzed to determine traveling speeds and possible behavioral implications. Continued work in this area will provide new information to our understanding of the Jurassic Period in Wyoming and is adding to the limited knowledge of North America’s Middle Jurassic dinosaur fauna.

Opportunities for undergraduates to conduct an applied research project of this type are not always possible. However, the UW Geological Museum has developed a program where motivated students can learn various aspects of research paleontology. Under faculty guidance, this program provides valuable experiences in setting up an independent study project, collecting data in the field, and interpreting the data. In addition, students gain valuable skills in finding funding for projects through the process of grant applications and writing proposals. Students present their research results in publications and presentations at scientific conferences. Finally, the results of the YBR research have laid the ground work for future student involvement on this and other related projects.