In the early 2000s, when Matt Joeckel was a new assistant professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Conservation and Survey Division (CSD), he participated in a project confirming that a couple dozen dinner plate-sized footprints preserved in sandstone in Jefferson County belonged to a type of plant-eating dinosaur. It was an ornithopod, or "bird-footed" bipedal dinosaur. And it was definitely a first. No other in-place, fully verifiable dinosaur fossils — whether trackways, bones or teeth — had yet been found in Nebraska. And no one has uncovered any since that find, Joeckel said.
Now UNL SNR’s senior associate director, the CSD director and state geologist, Joeckel is revisiting that discovery in an episode of “Nebraska Stories” set to air Jan. 21 on NET.
Titled "Nebraska Stories: Dinosaur Tracksite," the episode will revisit the discovery of the tracks in the state’s only bedrock formation where it could occur, the Dakota Formation. The dinosaur’s tracks were left during the Cretaceous Period, approximately 100 million years ago, and were spotted on private land in one of the limited areas of the state where the Dakota Formation crops out.
Joeckel’s interview for the television program was conducted at another Dakota Formation outcropping along Antelope Creek, near the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. He said he spoke to NET Television senior producer Kay Hall there in an effort to drive home to viewers that geological history is much closer to home than we often think.
"For all we know, there are dinosaur tracks under Lincoln, " Joeckel said.
"Nebraska Stories: Dinosaur Tracksite" airs at 8 p.m. Jan. 21 on NET. For the first time, " Nebraska Stories" will also be simultaneously streamed online. Viewers who don’t receive an NET broadcast signal can watch the episode at netnebraska.org/livestream.
If you miss the live stream, look for the story in Nebraska Stories online at netNebraska.org/nebraskastories