Receding Water Levels in Texas Reveal 113-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Footprints
A severe drought caused the Paluxy River to recede, delighting visitors who could see a trail of Acrocanthosaurus footprints in the riverbed After a severe drought caused the Paluxy River to recede,
delighting visitors who could see a trail of Acrocanthosaurus footprints in the riverbed
Officials at the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas discovered the footprints of a seven-ton Acrocanthosaurus in a riverbed after a severe drought caused the water to recede.
The trail had been preserved in mud and sediment. Photo: Dinosaur Valley State Park/AFP/Getty Images
When the waters of a Texas river receded this month, they unveiled a secret from 113 million years ago: a trail of dinosaur footprints.
The tracks in the Paluxy River weren’t just from any dinosaur, but a giant among giants. An Acrocanthosaurus—a 15-foot-tall, seven-ton beast—left behind prints that would dwarf a human foot, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said Wednesday.
Officials discovered the tracks earlier this month at the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Somervell County, which is about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
The park is known for its cache of footprints that dinosaurs had made at the edge of an ancient ocean.
No one knew about this set of Acrocanthosaurus footprints until a severe drought desiccated the Paluxy River, which runs through the park, said Stephanie Salinas Garcia, a spokeswoman for the state parks and wildlife department.
“The river dried up completely in most locations, allowing for more tracks to be uncovered here in the park,” she said.
They had been shrouded before in mud and sediment, which helped preserve them from natural weathering and erosion, she added.
In the American Southwest, a historic drought has unearthed less pleasant discoveries in the waters. People visiting Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, have found human remains as the water levels in Nevada continue to drop.
But in Texas, the shrinking Paluxy River showed something different. Where water once streamed, volunteers and visitors in recent days have walked along the parched riverbed, delighting in the cavernous three-toed footprints.
“It brought about the wonder and excitement about finding new dinosaur tracks at the park,” Ms. Garcia said.
Both species roamed parts of North America, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivore that looked similar to a Tyrannosaurus rex and ran on two legs to catch its prey. It could grow up to 38-feet long.
The Sauroposeidon was a plant-eating dinosaur with a long neck that stood as tall as 112 feet, according to the parks and wildlife department.
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