WASHINGTON, DC —
Many Washingtonians would have difficulty relating their city to the age of the dinosaurs. But it's not a stretch for Ray Stanford. He believes dinosaurs took the region as their home more than 100 million years ago. And he has amassed dinosaur foot prints - from fossils - that he found in the Washington suburbs.
On most sunny days, Ray Stanford can be found along creeks in College Park, Maryland, in the Washington suburbs. Stanford began hunting for fossil footprints 18 years ago. Since then, Stanford has collected more than a thousand footprints of various kinds of dinosaurs. He turned his living room into what he calls the "Stanford Museum."
Standford says a fossilized baby dinosaur in his collection is one of the only known hatchling dinosaurs of any kind.
"It is a natural cast of the mummy of a nodosaur fossil, an armored dinosaur that grew to be very large and heavy as an adult," Standford notes.
Standford donated some of his findings to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. They are displayed in the "Dinosaurs in Our Backyard" exhibit.
"Most importantly, he has found footprints of dinosaurs that we haven't found bones of yet. So because he has found the footprints, you know that these dinosaurs lived here. We didn't have the information before Ray discovered them," notes Matthew Carrano, the museum's curator.
Recently Stanford surprised even scientists at the U.S. space agency by finding a dinosaur footprint on the grounds of NASA's Space Flight Center in the Washington suburbs.
Stanford calls himself an amateur paleontologist. But he has co-authored scientific papers with other scientists.
"It is a great pleasure. You are seeing something that no one has ever seen. That gives you a great sense of discovery, which is very exciting to me," says Stanford.
Ray Stanford plans to keep on tracking until "there is nothing left to find."