A Quick and Quirky Prehistoric History of North Bergen

A Quick and Quirky Prehistoric History of North Bergen

Flying Lizards of North Bergen

Walk out onto the sidewalk on any given day or night and look around you.  Chances are you are looking into history.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that just about anywhere you look you are effectively looking back in time and at something that is somehow significant.  

Although we often think of historical facts as being part of some epic scheme it is often the smaller events that taken together form the true character of a city or town.  North Hudson is full of these little snippets of history that taken together form a significantly larger and incredibly diverse panorama.  The historical range of the North Hudson area is expansive to say the least.  We have our larger-than-life heroes of course such as James J. Braddock who was arguably our greatest North Bergenite and represent the champion of the common man.  But among our heroes hide the lesser-known and often bizarre pieces of history.  

In 1960 a young Alfred Siefker would discover the only known fossil of what is best described as a flying lizard that inhabited North Bergen about 228 million years ago.  The fossil was discovered in Granton Quarry in North Bergen where today there is a street (yes, Granton Avenue) that marks the general location of the site.  Although small, the lizard or Icarosaurus siefkeri, if we are to use the proper scientific classification, not only puts North Bergen on the map in the prehistorical sense but also gives us a basic indicator of what the area was like millions of years ago during the Triassic period.   

Image courtesy Nobu Tamura

The fossil traveled quite a bit; Siefker initially brought the fossil to the American Museum of Natural History where it was held unit 1989. He eventually took it back into his private collection and gave it up for auction. Luckily the winner of the auction would donate the fossil to the American Museum of Natural History.   Although insignificant in size, the four inch fossil had a lasting impact in the world of paleontology and Alfred Siefker can celebrate having achieved every kids dream of  having a  dinosaur named after him.    

History is a reminder that we are in fact very much alive and that we form part of a larger landscape that touches us all.  Like billiard balls on a table, everyone and everything that touches us sets off a chain reaction that reaches indefinitely into a future that although unseen by us, is definitely influence and perhaps even indirectly created by us.  So step out onto the sidewalk, think of all the places you see and all the things you interact with on a daily basis and how they form part of a magnificent history that is unique to North Hudson.

Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com)

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  1. Thanks for that bit of knowledge! I love learning new things, especially about my immediate surroundings.

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