Hidden Dinosaur Tracks Emerge in Texas State Park During Drought
Visitors to Dinosaur Valley State Park have been treated to a rare sight of 113-million-year-old dinosaur footprints.
Dinosaur Valley State Park southwest of Dallas. The paleontological treasure came to light in a dried-out riverbed.is largely terrible news, but Texas saw an interesting side effect when hidden dinosaur tracks appeared in
"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," Texas Parks spokesperson Stephanie Salinas Garcia told CNET in a statement. "Under normal river conditions, these newer tracks are under water and are commonly filled in with sediment, making them buried and not as visible."
Most of the tracks that appeared in the river belong to a bipedal theropod called Acrocanthosaurus, which would have stood around 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall and weighed up to seven tons.
Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park, a nonprofit that supports the park, has been posting updates to its Facebook page. Volunteers recently helped to clear mud and debris from exposed footprints on what the group called "one of the longest dinosaur trackways in the world."
The visibility of the tracks won't last. The park closed trails on Monday due to rain, but reopened them on Wednesday, saying the tracks were still visible. The park encourages reservations since it often reaches visitor capacity.
The dry spell has marked a rare opportunity to map and measure the tracks, but rain will be welcomed in a state facing prolonged drought. The upside, according to Garcia, is that sediment deposited by the river will help protect the tracks from weathering and erosion, preserving them for the future.