113 Million Year Old Dinosaur Tracks Revealed By Texas Drought, But Will Soon Be Disappearing Again
A severe drought in Texas has offered a rare sighting of ancient dinosaur tracks preserved in stone around 113 million years ago, but they will soon disappear again.
The deep footprints, complete with long claw marks, are preserved in the bed of a river that runs through Dinosaur Valley State Park, about 140 miles southwest of Dallas.
Footprints long hidden along what is now the bed of the Paluxy River are those of a carnivorous dinosaur Acrocanthosauruswhich was about four meters high and weighed about six tons.
Park Superintendent Jeff Davis said months of scorching dry weather dried up more of the Paluxy River than usual.
« These are exposed tracks that are very rarely seen, » Davis said. « They are usually covered in deep water, gravel and sandbars. »
WATCH | Texas drought reveals dinosaur tracks along the Paluxy River:
He says the three-toed tracks of what park staff call « the Acro » were made by a two-legged carnivore with a similar body shape to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
« But it’s a bit older than the T-Rex, » Davis said.
In the footsteps of his father
The rare footprint sighting excited dinosaur enthusiasts and thrilled Paul Baker, who grew up in the park behind his father, a ranger for three decades.
« Seeing these claw marks, no matter how old you are, is exciting, » Baker said.
« And I remember walking down the river with my dad and feeling these tracks along the riverbed…feeling these claw marks underwater and seeing them. »
« And it’s a nice feeling, especially when you’re a young child. »
About 20 years before his death, Baker’s father was the first to find the dinosaur footprints, revealed during another drought. The site was named in his honor and was revealed again by the recent drought.
« They’re under mud and water most of the time. It’s only during extreme drought that they’re visible, » said Baker, who is the manager of the Dinosaur Valley Park Store and volunteers at Glen Park. Rose, Texas.
He and other volunteers help clear the trails with brooms and leaf blowers so visitors can see them.
Other species that have left their mark in the park include the Sauroposeidon, a herbivore that was about 18 meters tall and weighed about 39 tons. The Sauroposeidon is a type of sauropod dinosaur, whose tracks are large and resemble elephants.
Davis says the Acrocanthosaurus may have fed on Sauroposeidonis young or injured. The engravings were made when the area was a shallow inland sea during the Cretaceous period, long before it was rolling grasslands in central Texas.
Davis said on Wednesday that the rains had already started to fill in the old tracks and would soon hide the park’s secret treasures again in the mud and silt of the river.