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Students look at Nashville dinosaur prints for project

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By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

The 20-ish college student who realized that potholes in a rock quarry north of Nashville were in reality dinosaur footprints has become a bearded Ph.D. who is resident manager of the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station, a teaching and research facility near Mena.

Dr. Jeff Pittman is still as enthused about the footprints that were left in prehistoric mud as he was in 1983 as a graduate student at SMU.

Last Thursday, Feb. 8, answering a request from EAST students at Nashville High School, Dr. Pittman came to Nashville and talked to the students about the animal, how it left its footprints, and how he discovered them.

The students plan to make a virtual reality production about dinosaurs and have already filmed an area in a creek bed near Center Point where there are other dinosaur footprints.

Nashville “owns” three fiberglass casts of the Sauropod’s walk, and they have been in storage beneath the Carter Day Training Center.

Last week, Nashville Parks Director Mark Dale brought the casts out for the students to see. The five gathered youths agreed that they had never seen the casts, and had not heard of them.

The fiberglass copies were made from plaster casts Dr. Pitt-man made at the discovery site before the rock layer was blown up for building materials.

The casts were made, mounted on boards and were painted for effect.

He said that there were so many dinosaur footprints it was difficult to focus on and track just the one animal.

Area citizens chipped in and had copies of the original cast mounted on a tilt which was placed alongside the sidewalk leading into the Howard County courthouse on the north side. Weather began degrading the casts and they were removed and put into storage.

News-Leader photo/LOUIE GRAVES
WITH THE DINOSAUR TRACKWAY. Thursday morning, Feb. 8, Nash-ville High School EAST students joined Dr. Jeff Pittman who discovered dinosaur tracks in the gypsum quarry near Nashville, to hear his talk about the beast and its discovery. The student program has plans for a dinosaur-related project. From left, Dr. Pittman, Alexis Prescott, Will McAlister, Shannon O’Donnell, Felicity Green and Savannah Smead.