The ongoing drought in central Texas has unveiled a fascinating glimpse into the past, as 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks have emerged from the receding waters of the Paluxy River in Dinosaur Valley State Park. While the park is known for protecting dinosaur footprints, these tracks are typically submerged under the river’s waters and sediment. However, the current drought conditions have caused water levels to drop significantly, revealing around 75 newly exposed dinosaur footprints.
The tracks are believed to have been made by two different types of dinosaurs. The first is the Acrocanthosaurus, a carnivore standing about 15 feet tall and weighing around 14,000 pounds. It left behind the imprint of its three-toed feet. The second type is the Sauroposeidon proteles, the official state dinosaur of Texas, which may have measured up to 100 feet in length and weighed around 88,000 pounds. Its footprints resemble those of an elephant.
These footprints provide valuable insights into the lives of these ancient creatures. They were created during the Cretaceous Period when the dinosaurs walked on soft mud in a shallow sea. Over time, the sediment solidified into limestone, preserving the footprints for millions of years. Researchers are now taking advantage of the opportunity to measure, document, and study these tracks before they eventually erode away.
The emergence of dinosaur tracks due to drought is not a new phenomenon in the area. Similar discoveries were made in 2022 when drought conditions exposed a long trail of dinosaur footprints in the park.
While the drought brings these ancient relics to light, it also poses challenges for researchers who must work under extreme conditions, including scorching temperatures on the limestone riverbed.
The revealing of these prehistoric treasures underscores the dynamic nature of Texas’s fossil-rich landscape, where resources are continually being destroyed by erosion but also renewed by natural processes such as droughts. It’s a reminder of the fascinating history buried beneath the earth’s surface and the enduring allure of dinosaurs for scientists and the public alike.