US Dinosaur Footprint Site Excavations

Submitted by ub on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 11:46

Glen Rose, Texas is a small town about 40 miles
southwest of Fort Worth. It is home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur
tracks in the world. Starting this week a team of scientists,
researchers, students, and collaborators from across the world will
descend on the Paluxy Riverbed to document and study the footprints and
track sites. The team is led by James Farlow, professor of geology at
Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). The dig is
partially funded by the National Geographic Society.

“The Glen Rose Paluxy River site contains some of the best-preserved,
most famous fossilized dinosaur footprints in the world,” said Farlow.
“On this dig we are extending our research efforts to additional track
sites in the riverbed to look at patterns of how the dinosaurs were
moving and how they interacted with each other.”

The 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks, first discovered in 1909,
bring thousands of visitors a year to attractions like nearby Dinosaur
Valley State Park and Dinosaur World. The Glen Rose Formation is a
shallow marine to shoreline geological formation from the lower
Cretaceous period exposed over a large area from South Central to North
Central Texas. The formation is most widely known for the dinosaur
footprints and trackways.

Since 2008, Farlow has worked frequently at the Glen Rose site as his
team assembled historical maps, photographs, and field notes. The team
is now photo-documenting the track sites as they presently exist. For
this summer’s dig, the team will also compare sauropod dinosaur
footprints and look at theropod (carnivorous) footprints that are
beautifully preserved, allowing for findings on predator/prey
interaction with sauropods as well as how dinosaurs moved throughout the
Paluxy River area.

Farlow is considered one of the leading experts in dinosaur footprints,
having published dozens of articles and books on dinosaurs, including
his most recent book, The Complete Dinosaur: Life of the Past (second
edition). In addition to publishing work on the dig discoveries, a
series of video segments constituting “virtual field trips” to the
track sites will be later made freely available along with lesson plans
and learning activities created by the science education team.

“These dinosaur footprints have been illustrated and discussed in
scientific papers, books, and journals since their discovery in 1909,”
said Farlow. “It is very exciting to continue our extensive research
with these incredibly preserved dinosaur footprints and to share the
information with the general public, who can benefit from what we’ve