US: Important dinosaur tracksite discovered at Glen Canyon NRA

An important dinosaur track site recently discovered in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area will shed new light on the history of an important dinosaur group.  The fossil track way, consisting of seven individual three-toed tracks, is morphologically similar to track ways associated with the dinosaurs known as ornithopods (bird feet).

The large ornithopod-like footprints are preserved as natural casts in the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone. The size of these tracks is significant – prior to the discovery of this locality, the oldest remains of large ornithopods in North America are known from Upper Jurassic rocks (Camptosaurus).  The new Glen Canyon track locality may extend the ornithopod dinosaur record in North America back 20 to 25 million years earlier than previously documented.

According to paleontologist Adrian Hunt, former director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, “the Navajo Formation find is very important not just for ichnology [study of fossil tracks], but also for the dinosaur record.  Tracks from large bipedal dinosaurs from this time period are unknown and this discovery suggests the existence of the ornithopod lineage of dinosaurs much earlier than previously thought”.

full story