SALT LAKE CITY University of Utah geologists identified an amazing concentration of dinosaur footprints that they call "a dinosaur dance floor," located in a wilderness on the Arizona-Utah border where there was a sandy desert oasis 190 million years ago.
The three-quarter-acre site which includes rare dinosaur tail-drag marks provides more evidence there were wet intervals during the Early Jurassic Period, when the U.S. Southwest was covered with a field of sand dunes larger than the Sahara Desert.
Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the "trample surface" (or "trampled surface") has more than 1,000 and perhaps thousands of dinosaur tracks, averaging a dozen per square yard in places. The tracks once were thought to be potholes formed by erosion. The site is so dense with dinosaur tracks that it reminds geologists of a popular arcade game in which participants dance on illuminated, moving footprints.
"Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game 'Dance Dance Revolution' that teenagers dance on," says Marjorie Chan, professor and chair of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. "This kind of reminded me of that a dinosaur dance floor because there are so many tracks and a variety of different tracks."
"There must have been more than one kind of dinosaur there," she adds. "It was a place that attracted a crowd, kind of like a dance floor."
A study identifying the dinosaur track site was published in the October issue of the international paleontology journal Palaios. Chan is senior author of the study, which was conducted for a master's degree thesis by former graduate student Winston Seiler, who now works at Chevron Inc., in Bakersfield, Calif.
Seiler says the range of track shapes and sizes reveals at least four dinosaur species gathered at the watering hole, with the animals ranging from adults to youngsters
|Contact: Lee Siegel|
University of Utah