“Where the first dinosaur skeleton was discovered!”
New Jersey is known for a lot of things. They've got their own cryptozoological monster (The Jersey Devil, not Snookie), they won't let you pump your own gas, and they even have their own den of sin in Atlantic City. But one thing you might not know about the Garden State is that the area lays claim to being the place where the world's first dinosaur skeleton was discovered. I know, right? In the summer of 1858, fossil enthusiast William Parker Foulke was on vacation in Haddonfield, New Jersey, when he began to hear rumors of giant bones in a local marl pit. Acting on a hunch, he hired a whole bunch of workers and spent the remainder of the summer digging for the mysterious bones. His hunch paid off. In October, he discovered the massive remains of the Hadrosaurus, an prehistoric beast larger than an elephant. It was the first discovery of a near-complete dinosaur skeleton, and it kick-started the entire field of dinosaur paleontology. As you can imagine, the city of Haddonfield is pretty proud of their find (the dino got its name from the town, after all), and has gone out of its way to memorialize the discovery, not just by naming the Hadrosaurus as the official state fossil and building a giant dinosaur statue in the middle of town, but by turning the old dig site into a public park now recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Inside Hadrosaurus Park, a small patch of land tucked away at the end of a sleepy suburban street, there sits a stone marker with a plaque that commemorates the discovery site. Every year, hundreds of paleontology fans from all over the world, as far as Japan and Germany, make their way to the park, eager to see the place where dinosaur palentology was ignited. Those who are a little braver (and have good hiking boots) can even make their way into the nearby ravine where the bones were pulled from the grey muck. Who knows, if you make the trek, youmight even walk away with a discovery of your own.
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