Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Rare Dinosaur Tracksite Found In Northern Wyoming

Date:
November 20, 2000
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
In 1997, near the town of Shell in the Bighorn Basin of northern Wyoming, Indiana University geologist Erik Kvale found extensive dinosaur track-bearing deposits in 167 million-year-old rock in the Sundance Formation that was previously thought to have been totally underwater during the time when dinosaurs lived. Now Kvale and collaborators report the presence of an even older, more extensive dinosaur track-bearing deposit in the Bighorn Basin.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The dinosaur record of the Middle Jurassic period (159-187 million years ago) is considered sparse worldwide, with relatively little known about dinosaurs from this period. However, recent discoveries of the most extensive Middle Jurassic dinosaur tracksites in North America are changing that.

Related Articles


In 1997, near the town of Shell in the Bighorn Basin of northern Wyoming, Indiana University geologist Erik Kvale found extensive dinosaur track-bearing deposits in 167 million-year-old rock in the Sundance Formation that was previously thought to have been totally underwater during the time when dinosaurs lived.

Now Kvale and collaborators report the presence of an even older, more extensive dinosaur track-bearing deposit in the Bighorn Basin. The scientists presented their results today (Nov. 16) at the annual convention of the Geological Society of America in Reno, Nev.

The new discovery is in a meter-thick layer of rock in the Gypsum Spring Formation. Estimated to be 170 million years old, this newly discovered layer preserves evidence that dinosaurs that inhabited this part of Wyoming may have been swimmers.

The Gypsum Spring Dinosaur Tracksite was first discovered in 1999 by Walter Parrs Jr., a New York City resident visiting a local ranch. It includes impressions made by land-dwelling two-legged dinosaurs that were small- to medium-sized, comparable to those found in the younger Sundance Formation. Some of the tracks were made by carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods.

Outcrops containing Gypsum Spring tracks occur sporadically over a 2000-square-kilometer area. In some areas the track-bearing surface consists entirely of grooves that appear to be the remains of scratch marks made by dinosaurs whose feet briefly touched a muddy bottom while they were swimming. The groove marks have a size and spacing consistent with terrestrial dinosaur tracks found elsewhere in the Gypsum Spring Formation.

Unlike the Sundance tracks that preserve only the three toes and rarely the heel of the dinosaur's foot, many examples of toe and heel impressions have been found in the Gypsum Spring trackways. As a result, estimates of a dinosaur's speed based on foot size and stride can be made for these dinosaurs. Estimates of dinosaur speeds up to 9.2 kilometers per hour have been calculated.

Interestingly, the researchers believe that algal and bacterial mats that once covered the tidal flats inhabited by these animals may have helped in preserving their tracks over millions of years. Such microbial mats are present on many of today's beaches and tidal flats. Within minutes to hours after the dinosaurs walked across a tidal flat, a thin microbial mat covered their tracks. This stabilized the tracks and prevented erosion of the track-bearing surface by wind or waves until it was buried by other sediments and eventually hardened into rock.

For the Middle Jurassic period in the United States, reptilian discoveries had been limited to Utah. These include: (1) the skeleton of one land-dwelling primitive crocodile-like reptile; (2) dinosaur tracks in the formation called the Entrada, which is several million years younger; and (3) a few small dinosaur tracks from the Sundance equivalent called the Carmel Formation. Therefore, the existence of abundant dinosaur tracks within the older Gypsum Spring Formation and Sundance Formation contributes significantly to knowledge of the geographic distribution of dinosaurs in North America during this time.

The original 1997 discovery in the Sundance Formation resulted in the establishment of the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite on public lands administered by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The Red Gulch site is a 40-acre area currently being developed by BLM as a dinosaur educational site accessible to the public.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "New Rare Dinosaur Tracksite Found In Northern Wyoming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001120073801.htm>.
Indiana University. (2000, November 20). New Rare Dinosaur Tracksite Found In Northern Wyoming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001120073801.htm
Indiana University. "New Rare Dinosaur Tracksite Found In Northern Wyoming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001120073801.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) — The United States has returns over 500 vases, bowls, axes, and other ancient artifacts mostly from the Ban Chiang archaeological site which were illegally looted from Thailand decades ago. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Search Through Every Public Tweet Sent Since 2006

How To Search Through Every Public Tweet Sent Since 2006

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) — Twitter has announced improvements to its search index that allow users to search through every public tweet sent since its inception in 2006. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Unlocks the Mystery of Paintings

Professor Unlocks the Mystery of Paintings

AP (Nov. 19, 2014) — Richard Johnson, a computer and engineering professor at Cornell University, is using technology to uncover mysteries about the age and authenticity of historic paintings by artists like Johannes Vermeer and Vincent Van Gogh. (Nov. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Napoleon Memorabilia to Be Sold at Auction

Napoleon Memorabilia to Be Sold at Auction

AFP (Nov. 14, 2014) — Napoleon's personal possessions, including his iconic cocked hat, are being auctioned off this weekend at a special sale at Fontainebleau Castle. Buyers are expected to bid hundreds of thousands or even millions of euros. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins