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Paleontologist who co-founded Friends of Dinosaur Ridge nonprofit passes away

Dinosaur Ridge and Martin Lockley_Friends of Dinosaur Ridge
Posted at 6:01 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 20:01:29-05

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The paleontologist who was the driving force behind a nonprofit that supports Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison passed away over the weekend.

Leadership with Friends of Dinosaur Ridge announced on Monday morning that the organization's co-founder and leading advocate Dr. Martin Lockley had died on Saturday at the age of 73. He had been diagnosed with cancer earlier in 2023.

Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison_dino prints

The nonprofit credits Lockley with putting Dinosaur Ridge on the map as one of the most famous places in the world to see dinosaur fossils and footprints. He renamed the section of the Dakota Hogback after the prehistoric creatures.

But his work expanded well beyond Morrison. Lockley spent four decades identifying and mapping ancient trackways around the world, expanding scientific knowledge about dinosaurs' courtship, parenting, migration, and herding behaviors.

Evidence of dinosaur courtship found in Colorado

“I've asked other leading paleoichnologists about Martin's standing and there's no debate that he stood alone,” said Dinosaur Ridge Executive Director Jeff Lamontagne. “As one colleague put it, Martin was the gold standard for identifying dinosaur tracks.”

Lockley, who was inspired by his ornithologist father while growing up in Wales, moved to Colorado in 1980 to begin a teaching position at the University of Colorado in Denver. He ended up spending 30 years teaching there.

Lockley pushed for the creation of the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, which came to fruition in 1989, to protect the tracksite. He was instrumental in helping protect trackways at several other locations, the nonprofit said.

Last year, he presented a TEDx Mile High Talk about how dinosaur footprints can tell a better story than any of their fossils.

He lived in the Colorado foothills in a country home filled with souvenirs from his worldly travels, the nonprofit said.

Throughout his lifetime, he published more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 17 books, and earned several awards, including the Korean Presidential Citation for Contribution to Cultural Heritage Protection in 2020.

Friends of Dinosaur Ridge said it will rename its Discovery Center building near Red Rocks Amphitheatre the Martin G. Lockley Discovery Center in his honor.

The nonprofit will hold a private remembrance day for Lockley in December for his friends, colleagues, students and those who were influenced and inspired by his work. His family is planning a private funeral.

Lockley is survived by two children, four grandchildren and his partner of more than 30 years.