Drought conditions in Dinosaur Valley State Park, located in Glen Rose, Texas, have recently uncovered a remarkable discovery. Volunteers working in the park have unearthed approximately 400 tracks of Sauropod and Therapod dinosaurs at one site in the dried riverbed. This astounding find is capturing the attention of both scientists and the general public, as such a large and well-preserved collection of dinosaur tracks is rare and significant.
The volunteers, aware of the urgency of the situation, are working quickly to make molds of the tracks before rain returns to the area and fills in the prints with water and mud. Glen Kuban, one of the site diggers, expressed his excitement, calling this a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and even speculating that it may be a “once-in-forever opportunity.”
The drought has persisted in the area since May, with no nearby rain showers to alleviate the dry conditions. As a result, park staff have been able to easily remove sediment covering portions of the limestone riverbed. The Ballroom site, near the park’s entrance, has yielded the majority of the unearthed tracks. Each track is estimated to be approximately 110 million years old, providing an incredible window into prehistoric times.
The three-toed tracks that have been exposed belong mostly to the Acrocanthosaurus, a dinosaur resembling the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. Additionally, larger impressions resembling bear tracks are believed to have been made by Sauroposeidon, also known as Paluxysaurus, the state dinosaur of Texas. Philip Scoggins, another volunteer site digger, humorously described the dinosaurs’ movements at the Ballroom site, stating that “they were stepping on each other and running around,” providing an amusing sight for those involved in the excavation.
The limestone riverbed was once a soft mud area in a bay of the ancient Gulf of Mexico. Sediment gradually filled the footprints left by the dinosaurs, perfectly preserving their form. These layers of sediment continued to build up over time until 1908 when a significant flood removed the upper layers, exposing the tracks once again.
Although Dinosaur Valley State Park frequently reveals dinosaur tracks to visitors and scientists alike, park superintendent Jeff Davis highlighted the exceptional nature of this recent discovery. Never before has he witnessed such a large number of prints exposed at once. Excitement is palpable at the park, with tents now dotting the riverbed to cover the various excavation sites. This activity is especially welcomed as it provides a distraction from the historic heat that is currently gripping the region.
While drought conditions are generally not beneficial for business, the retail manager of Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Paul Baker, noted that the newly-exposed tracks are likely to attract visitors from across the country in the coming weeks. However, this interest may be short-lived, as the prints will eventually be filled with mud once rain replenishes the Paluxy River. Nevertheless, Baker anticipates a busy period, as people flock to witness this unique and impressive sight.
In conclusion, the unexpected drought conditions in Dinosaur Valley State Park have revealed a treasure trove of dinosaur tracks, captivating the imagination of both experts and the public. This extraordinary discovery, with approximately 400 tracks unearthed so far, offers a glimpse into the lives of these prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth millions of years ago. As the excavation continues, scientists and volunteers eagerly anticipate any further insights that these tracks may provide about the ancient world.