Share

Prehistoric Splendor: 125-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Tracks Open to Public

August 22, 2014

Imagine your foot getting stuck in the mud. As you lift the shoe out of the muck, you hear a suction noise until finally your foot comes free, leaving behind an imprint of your foot in the place you last stood. Now imagine that mud hardening over millions of years, leaving your footprint for future generations to discover.

That’s exactly what one lucky hiker came across in 2009, and what the public will soon be able to view — with one catch: The 200-plus footprints belong to dinosaurs. The site, located in Moab, Utah, just west of Arches National Park, could soon become a must-see destination for any dino-lover. 

“We don’t usually get this much diversity at one track site preserved,” ReBecca Hunt-Foster, a Bureau of Land Management paleontologist, told weather.com. The prints suggest duck-billed hadrosaurs and ankylosaurs with bony-plated backs, as well as sauropods similar to the Apatosaurus (“only younger,” Hunt-Foster said) and dromaeosaurs — a first for North America. There were crocodiles and birds, too.

“We’re able to see a lot of details about what the tracks look like,” she said. “Some of them you can see the pads on the feet, some of them you can see the toes. Some of them you can see where the dinosaur slipped in the mud. It’s a pretty cool site.”

Until recently, the BLM didn’t disclose the site’s location, not because the agency wanted to keep it secret, but rather because federal law mandates such action until the BLM decides a site should be open to the public. “Since the site is so spectacular and [the tracks] are visually easy to understand, we thought it would be a great site to turn into an interpretative trail,” Hunt-Foster said.

Researchers have been working there since 2010; excavation started in 2013. Recently, volunteers swept the area to get it ready for 3-D photographing by the BLM followed by its public debut.

Moab as a whole is ripe with remains of prehistoric times. (It’s the place where a thief stole a dinosaur footprint back in February.) Hunt-Foster says having so much history there is just luck of the draw. “The conditions where these animals were living were very good conditions for preserving fossils and preserving tracks. We just kind of lucked out, geologically.”

Featured Blogs

Category 5 Super Typhoon Maysak Pounding Micronesia

By Dr. Jeff Masters
March 31, 2015

Extremely dangerous Category 5 Super Typhoon Maysak is pounding the islands of Yap State in Micronesia's Caroline Islands. At 8 am EDT Tuesday the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) put Maysak's top sustained winds at 160 mph, making it one of only three Category 5 storms ever observed in the Western Pacific prior to April. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) put Maysak's central pressure at 905 mb, the lowest pressure they have estimated for any Western Pacific typhoon occurring so early in the year.

Possible New Continental Heat Record for Antarctica

By Christopher C. Burt
March 26, 2015

On March 24th Base Esperanza (under Argentinean administration) located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reported a temperature of 17.5°C (63.5°F). Although this is the warmest temperature ever measured since weather stations became established on the southern continent, it is complicated by what the very definition of ‘Antarctica’ is. Here’s a brief review.

Devastating Drought Conditions and Annoying People

By Shaun Tanner
February 4, 2015

The drought in California has been pretty devastating and at least some of the people of California seem to be happy about it.

Meteorological images of the year - 2014

By Stu Ostro
December 30, 2014

My 9th annual edition.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.