Special Features - Slideshow

Representing Fossil Footprints

Ichnology of New England, plate IX, fig. 1. Image courtesy of Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library.

About this Image

This lithograph of the Middletown "gem" specimen shows a very good likeness to the original fossil, and the quality of the image is not much different from the photograph on the first slide. This image is from Edward Hitchcock's "Ichnology of New England," Plate LX, fig. 1. The specimen's size is noted as 38 x 60 inches.

Hitchcock describes the plate as an "ambrotype sketch." He was ambivalent about this kind of illustration, particularly when reduced in size. He said: "These [ambrotypes] give the tracks, with whatever imperfections they have, just as they appear upon the specimens, and occupying their true relative positions. But the lithographer, at my request, has omitted all other irregularities upon the slab, in order to give the tracks more distinctiveness." Thus, one of Hitchcock's ambrotypes may show a footprint more clearly than would be the case when looking at the actual slab.