A summer of drought has revealed long-submerged relics across the globe. Some bring us back decades, while others boast histories of thousands of years. A park in Texas now claims one of the oldest revealed this summer – dinosaur footprints dating back over 113 million years.
The Dinosaur Valley State Park near Fort Worth, Texas, famous for exactly what its name suggests, has discovered dinosaur footprints that have historically been covered by water and sediment.
Now that a summer of drought has left its Paluxy River shrinking, tracks from millions of years ago can be seen.
Jeff Davis, park superintendent, told ABC News that the Taylor site, where the tracks were found, is one of the most breathtaking parts of the park this summer.
Davis said the tracks at this site are possibly the longest tracks made by a single dinosaur in North America. Davis said the tracks are from Acrocanthosaurus dinosaurs from millions of years ago
However, as Texas begins to get some rain, Davis said it likely won’t be long before the tracks become hidden again.
“It’s just the nature of the river,” Davis said.
While these tracks haven’t become visible in at least 20 years, Davis said, it’s common for different tracks to become visible and disappear throughout the park based on weather.
Because of the drought, many of these tracks are more accessible, he said.
On the opposite side of the park from the Taylor site, Davis said the Denio site has been cleared off during the drought. At this site, Sauroposeidon tracks are visible.
Davis said the optimal time for viewing dinosaur tracks at the park varies from year to year. Davis said the park encourages visitors in the spring and fall when the weather is a bit cooler and it’s safer to be outside than in the summer heat.
Davis said having the river run through the park is a double-edged sword, because it can make the tracks invisible, but it can also ensure their preservation in some ways.
“It’s the river that will bring in silt and sediment and pile those on top of the tracks. That’s what preserves them, that’s why they’re still here after 113 million years or so,” Davis said.
Because of that, Davis said the park will leave some tracks intentionally covered, in order to preserve them for the future. In other cases, park rangers or volunteer crews will use safe methods to clear tracks.
Davis said crews will use a combination of a little water, leaf blowers and brooms to clear and clean out some of the tracks. This way, crews can scoop out sediment and rocks without damaging the tracks, he said.
With tracks especially visible right now, Davis said there is plenty to see at the park.
“Dinosaur Valley State Park has world-class dinosaur tracks,” Davis said. “You know there are no better tracks anywhere in the world that we’re aware of as far as the length of our truck weighs the quality of the preservation, the features, how detailed the tracks are.”