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'A dinosaur dance floor'
Date:10/19/2008

ad ponds oases."

The 2.4-inch-wide tail-drag marks which are up to 24 feet long are a special discovery because there are fewer than a dozen dinosaur tail-drag sites worldwide, Seiler says. Four tail drags were within the 10 plots he surveyed, and there are others nearby.

"Dinosaurs usually weren't walking around with their tails dragging," he says.

Potholes or Prints from Four Kinds of Dinosaurs?

Chan first visited the site of the dinosaur tracks in 2005 with a BLM ranger who was puzzled by them. Chan initially called them potholes, which are erosion features common in desert sandstone, "but I knew that wasn't the whole story because of the high concentration and because they weren't anywhere else nearby but along that one surface."

Seiler first saw the site in 2006. "At first glance, they look like weathering pits a field of odd potholes," he says. "But within about five minutes of wandering around, I realized these were dinosaur footprints."

One anonymous reviewer of the Palaios study still believes the holes are erosion features. The study argues the impressions are from dinosaurs because:

  • They are the correct size for tracks made by big animals, and are limited to a single rock bed.

  • Four different kinds of footprint shapes are seen repeatedly in 14 percent of the impressions, and they include obvious claw, toe and heel marks. The other impressions "are clearly similar."

  • One-third of the prints are surrounded by small ridges or mounds. Such features would be expected when animals stepped in wet sand.

  • The tracks "are rarely flat and are typically oriented at an angle into the sediment and indicate a clear direction of travel" to the west-southwest. Seiler says the direction the dinosaurs walked "either was dictated by the large dunes that bounded this wet area, or it could be communal behavior, like walking together as a pack."


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Contact: Lee Siegel
leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert  

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