"The different size tracks [1 inch to 20 inches long] may tell us that we are seeing mothers walking around with babies," he says.
The site a 6-mile roundtrip hike from the nearest road is in Arizona in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, which is part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The track site about halfway between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Ariz. is near a popular wind-sculpted sandstone attraction known as the Wave.
A Dense Collection of Dinosaur Footprints and a Few Tail Drags
Chan says the new study is the first scientific publication to identify the impressions as dinosaur footprints on a trample surface.
As part of the study, Seiler marked off 10 random plots, each of 4 square meters, or roughly 2 yards by 2 yards. He counted 473 tracks within those plots an average of 12 per square meter. He conservatively estimates the 3,000-square-meter site (about 0.75 acres) has more than 1,000 tracks, but he and Chan believe there perhaps are thousands.
Numerous dinosaur track sites have been found in the western United States, including more than 60 in Navajo Sandstone, where actual dinosaur bones are rare.
"Unlike other trackways that may have several to dozens of footprint impressions, this particular surface has more than 1,000," Seiler and Chan wrote. And they say the density of tracks is much greater than it is at even larger track sites, such as the one at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah.
The dinosaur tracks and tail marks near the Wave were preserved in the vast Navajo Sandstone Formation. But unlike the dunes that make up much of the Navajo Sandstone, the tracks are within what was a wet, low watering hole between the dunes.
"We're looking at an area much like the Sahara Desert with blowing sand dunes," Seiler says. "Areas between these sand dunes could have h
|Contact: Lee Siegel|
University of Utah