In Texas, Drought Exposes Dinosaur Footprints

River has dried up in Dinosaur Valley State Park
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2022 7:46 PM CDT
Drought Exposes Texas Dinosaur Tracks
Tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park.   (Dinosaur Valley State Park/Paul Baker)

In Europe, drought has exposed medieval "hunger stones" that warn of hard times ahead when river levels are low. In Texas, drought has exposed dinosaur tracks. Dinosaur Valley State Park says a river bed has dried up, exposing 113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks that were covered in water and filled with sediment, the BBC reports. Park superintendent Jeff Davis says the exposed tracks are part of what's known as the "Lone ranger trackway," a 100-foot trackway left by a single Acrocanthosaurus. Around 60 of the fossilized footprints are currently visible, Davis says.

"Most tracks that have recently been uncovered and discovered at different parts of the river in the park belong to Acrocanthosaurus. This was a dinosaur that would stand, as an adult, about 15 feet tall," park spokesperson Stephanie Salinas Garcia tells CNN. She says Acrocanthosaurus weighed around seven tons. Other tracks in the central Texas were left by Sauroposeidon, a 60-foot-tall, 44-ton dinosaur that was probably prey for Acrocanthosaurus.

"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," Garcia tells CBS. She says rain is forecast, meaning the tracks may soon be covered again—but being underwater helps protect them from weathering and erosion. According to the US Drought Monitor, almost 90% of Texas is experiencing drought conditions classed as severe, extreme, or exceptional. (Read more dinosaur tracks stories.)

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