They were popularly regarded as bird footprints and they were so identified by the clergyman and president of Amherst College E. B. Hitchcock in his work Ichnology of New England (1858). They were of significance to the naturalist and supporter of Darwin, Thomas Huxley.
Huxley believed that birds evolved from an ancestral ratite, and the large Massachusetts tracks seemed to support this. However, when Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1861 it became apparent that the Connecticut River remains could not be those of birds and have since been reidentified as dinosaurs. Hitchcock had the trackways removed and taken to the Amherst College Museum of Natural History, where they are displayed.