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113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks uncovered in dried-up river due to historic drought

The dinosaur tracks found under the Paluxy river were from dinosaurs that had three toes and claws on each limb and were about 15 feet tall.

113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks uncovered in dried-up river due to historic drought
Cover Image Source: Twitter/@WIRED

One of the great things about humans is that we can see the light at the end of any tunnel. One such dark tunnel that feels endless is global warming and climate crisis. However, every now and then, even a crisis as severe as global warming leaves us in awe. 

Climate change-induced severe droughts in the state of Texas have uncovered 113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks at the Dinosaur Valley State Park. In a statement to The New York Times, spokesperson Stephanie Garcia from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said, “Due to the excessive drought conditions this past summer, the river dried up completely in most locations, allowing for more tracks to be uncovered here in the park.” She elaborated, “Under normal river conditions, these newer tracks are underwater and are commonly filled in with sediment, making them buried and not as visible.” She also added, “Tracks being buried under layers of sediment do help protect them from natural weathering and erosion.”



The dinosaur tracks found under the Paluxy river were from an Acrocanthosaurus, which were theropods, or bipedal dinosaurs, with three toes and claws on each limb. Painting a picture for the readers, Ms. Garcia also spoke to CNN about the perceived appearance of this dinosaur. She said, “This was a dinosaur that would stand, as an adult, about 15 feet tall and (weigh) close to seven tons.” In addition to the Acrocanthosaurus, park officials also discovered the tracks of the Sauroposeidon, which they believe weighed around 44 tons and was about 60 feet tall. 

The presence of these dinosaur tracks, while alluding to a very dark future for the planet, was an exciting discovery for researchers and paleontologists. Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist and an emeritus professor of earth sciences at Southern Methodist University, claims that the tracks uncovered here are part of a trackway that was already discovered, the total number of steps now adds up to 150. “Those footprints — they’re spectacular because they’re deep,” Mr. Jacobs said. “You can see the toenails. There’s more than one kind, and there’s a lot of them.” He is also optimistic that there might be more undiscovered tracks and as the river erodes, we would be able to see some more while erasing some others. The tracks collected from the same Paluxy river in 1938 are currently on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.



Ms. Garcia shared her excitement for these tracks along with researchers and paleontologists. “While these newer dinosaur tracks were visible for a brief amount of time, it brought about the wonder and excitement about finding new dinosaur tracks at the park," she said. "Dinosaur Valley State Park will continue to protect these 113-million-year-old tracks not only for present, but future generations.” However, the spokesperson did predict that the tracks may be buried soon as rain has been forecast in the region. The Texas region is also said to have a good fossil occurrence, according to James Farlow, a vertebrae paleontologist and adjunct biology professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “Texas is blessed with a lot of good fossil occurrences,” Mr. Farlow said, “not only of dinosaur footprints but also of dinosaur skeletons as well.” He added, “It’s a resource that is continually being destroyed but continuously being renewed.”



This is not the first case of some historical artifact being discovered after a major climate event. In Nevada and Arizona, several human remains were found at Lake Mead after 73% of the reservoir dried up due to the drought. Additionally, in China's Yangtze river, Buddhist statues presumed to be more than 600 years old built during the Ming and Qing dynasties were found.


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