Imagine, for a moment, finding a dinosaur footprint in your own backyard. It happened to 14-year-old Pliny Moody as he was plowing his father's Massachusetts field in 1802: Three-toed tracks imprinted in a slab of rock - and the word "dinosaur" hadn't even been coined yet.
How did we get from those footprints, found more than a hundred years ago, to our modern understanding of dinosaurs? You can find out with "DinoTracks," which runs-no pun intended-through April 27 at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. ECHO is located at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
This latest ECHO exhibit is a sure winner and features real New England fossils and imaginative interactives that bring paleoichnology-the study of ancient remains, including tracks-to life.
"DinoTracks" uniquely focuses on dinosaur footprints from the New England states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as New Jersey and Eastern Canada, where numerous fossils have been found and, in fact, are still being found today.
•Step right up-and into-the life-sized tracks made by New England dinosaurs millions of years ago. Can you follow their trail?
•Run as fast as a dinosaur - or creep as slow - on the "Dino Treadmill;" then use a custom-designed giant calculator to compare your speeds.
•Hear and feel the powerful footsteps of a dinosaur "sneaking up on you" from your seat on the Jurassic Park Bench.
•Discover how scientists today use live emus, turkeys, and lizards to explore how dinosaurs may have moved.
ECHO Executive Director Phelan Fretz, said "There is a story behind every set of tracks, and interpreting those stories is as exciting and varied as the tracks themselves."
Even the absence of tracks tells a story.
For instance, here's a mystery: Vermont is surrounded by states and provinces where numerous tracks have been found, but at this time, no dinosaur tracks have been located within the Green Mountain State.
Experts theorize that most of Vermont was under water during prehistoric times. But Vermont has its own claim to "fossil fame": Traces of coral reef found in the Champlain Islands pre-date the dinosaurs by several million years.
"DinoTracks" is a creation of EEC!, the same folks who brought you Turtle Travels, Tree Houses, and Attack of the Bloodsuckers! The entire exhibit is in English, French, and Spanish, welcoming visitors from near and far. Be sure to join this hands-on - and feet-on - journey of discovery, unraveling the tales of the dinosaurs that roamed our own "backyard," millions of years ago.
This exhibit is produced by the Environmental Exhibit Collaborative (EEC!), a group of mid-sized children's and natural science museums, including ECHO, and is made possible by grants from Jane's Trust and the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, with added support from IBM.
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is located at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, on Vermont's Burlington Waterfront. ECHO features 70 live species, over 100 interactive experiences.
For more information visit echovermont.org or call 1-877-ECHOFUN. ECHO is located on the Lake Champlain waterfront at 1 College St. in Burlington.