Unless you are a relative of Roland T. Bird you've probably never heard of him, but if you are interested in fossil tracks and dinosaur bones then you most certainly have. For a man who never finished high school and suffered from poor health most of his life he achieved considerable success in the science of ichnology and as a paleontologist. His discoveries and work is displayed in several natural history museums in the United States.
Roland Thaxter Bird was born in Rye, New York on December 29th, 1899. His father was a successful businessman and distinguished amateur entomologist. His son Roland was forced to drop out of high school at age fourteen because of poor respiratory health, then his mother died of tuberculosis just one year later. At the advice of the family doctor Roland was sent to live on his uncle's farm where he learned cattle husbandry, a trade that would later on serve him well.
He started traveling about 1920 and found a job working as a cowboy for a wealthy Florida cattleman showing his dairy cows at exhibits around the country. The 1920 depression brought an end to that so with what little money he possessed he bought a 1929 Harley Davidson motorcycle with a sidecar that he rebuilt as a mini-camper. He wandered about the country for the next decade supporting himself by working odd jobs.
However, in his manuscript he mentions finding the site in 1932 but not
returning to the vicinity until 1937 with Barnum Brown.
His crowning achievement was the discovery, collection, and interpretation of the gigantic dinosaur trackways along the Paluxy River near Glen Rose and at Bandera, Texas in 1940. A track sequence from Glen Rose is on exhibit at the AMNH and at the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin. His interpretation of these trackways demonstrated that a large meat eating carnosaur had pursued and attacked a sauropod, that sauropods migrated in herds and they could support their own weight out of deep water. These behavioral interpretations were contrary to then-current beliefs and not fully accepted for at least two decades.
To be continued in the following post 'The Cameron Dinosaur Tracks' about my search for the track site.