Friday, October 12, 2007

Walking With Dinosaurs

While I was birding down in SW Kansas I drove down to Clayton New Mexico specifically to see the dinosaur footprints. I had seen some in Black Mesa, but heard there were many more in Clayton. I wasn't disappointed.

The tracks are actually in Clayton Lake State Park which is north of the town of Clayton. The tracks were found a few years after they started building the dam for the reservoir. It took a while for the sediment on top of the tracks to wash away. The first picture here shows an overview of the area the tracks were found. Pretty much all of the depressions you can see filled with rain water are prints. There are over 500 prints, with 8 species of dinosaur. The area was on the shore of an inland ocean which made for great opportunities to step in some mud.

This last picture fascinates me. The rock shows the shoreline pattern from over a 100 million years ago! The waves formed the ripples in the mud that can be seen here.
There are tracks where you can see a tail dragging. There is only one other instance of this in the world. Usually dinosaurs used their tails for balance and didn't let them touch the ground while walking, but here the dinosaur was off balance walking through the mud and had to catch itself with its tail! There is much detective work still left to do at this site.

It really is an amazing thing to see the actual footprints of dinosaurs. The only thing I would like to see more are the footprints Mary Leaky found of Australopithecus in Tanzania, but still these are older!

While there I found this Western Hognose Snake hanging out in its ancestors' tracks.


Larry said...

Interesting photos!I just heard that they found a previously undiscovered Dinosaur that was like 90 feet long.-I'm going to google it now.

cogresha said...

Yeah, I heard about that. Cool!