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East Windsor's Dinosaur Bones

A drawing of Anchisaurus with a yellow head and green body.

In 1818, Solomon Ellsworth, Jr. found some peculiar bones while digging a well in East Windsor. The bones were originally thought to be human until a tail was found nearby. No one at that time had ever heard of a dinosaur or knew that millions of creatures had lived on Earth but had become extinct. In 1885 paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, a curator at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, identified the bones as fragments of the forelimbs of a small, plant-eating dinosaur. In 1896 Marsh pronounced the bones to be those of a prosauropod dinosaur named Anchisaurus, which means “near lizard”.

Anchisaurus lived over 190 million years ago during the Early Jurassic period. It stood with a bipedal posture balanced by a long tail and heavy body. It was about six feet long and would have weighed approximately seventy-five pounds.

John Ostrom, a former curator of paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Sidney Quarrier, a former state geologist, both believed the East Windsor bones may represent the first scientifically-studied dinosaur remains in North America.

Casts of the bones from East Windsor’s Anchisaurus are on display at the Warehouse Point Library. The bones themselves are preserved at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History under catalog number YPM 2125. The casts of “The Bones from the Well” and the wooden Anchisaurus sculpture at the library’s front entrance were dedicated in recognition of Nancy Masters’ twenty-five years of service on the Library Board. Mrs. Masters lives at the site where the bones were discovered more than two centuries ago.

Nancy Masters standing next to the Anchisaurus bones display
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