113 million-year-old dinosaur footprints uncovered in Texas thanks to drought

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By Carina Murphy

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This summer, intense droughts hit Texas, drying up rivers and baking the land.

But the extreme heat has had one benefit: it's given us a glimpse of a long-dead Texan from 113 million years ago.

As you might guess from the name, prehistoric remains are often found in Dinosaur Valley State Park outside Dallas. However, the footprints of one dinosaur - an Acrocanthosaurus - were previously inaccessible to archeologists because they lay at the bottom of the Paluxy River.

But thanks to the drought - which is reportedly the most extreme in the region for over 1,200 years - the Paluxy has recently dried up, and the Acrocanthosaurus tracks have been revealed.

A relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Acrocanthosaurus was an apex predator that stood 15 feet tall and lived over 113 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous period.

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Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Tracks Dinosaur Valley State Park. Credit: Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Tracks Dinosaur Valley State Park

Footage of the tracks shows three huge toes splayed out from the heel, much like a T-Rex's footprint might look. Park Superintended Jeff Davis told the BBC that the recently exposed footprints are called the "Lone Ranger trackway" and belong to a single dinosaur who walked the trail for around 100ft.

According to the state park's website, tracks were first found there in 1909. Though the site currently sits about 70 miles outside Dallas, in the Early Cretaceous period it was on the edge of an ocean and covered by a soft mud perfect for preserving dinosaur footprints.

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Tracks in the Paluxy River. Credit: All Canada Photos / Alamy

Meanwhile, the Acrocanthosaurus whose tracks were found at the bottom of the Paluxy was likely not the only of its species to walk through the park. Many of the footprints found there belong to therapods (like Acrocanthosaurus and T-Rex), though there is also evidence of sauropods like the Brontosaurus.

The tracks are also not the only sunken secret to be revealed by the ongoing 'megadrought' in the southwest of the US, which according to a recent study marks the driest period in the area for over 1,200 years.

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Acrocanthosaurus display. Credit: Jason Pulley / Alamy

Per The Independent, five sets of human remains and a Second World War era boat have been found in Lake Mead - the US's largest reservoir - as water levels drop due to dry conditions.

Featured Image Credit: Don Klumpp / Alamy 

113 million-year-old dinosaur footprints uncovered in Texas thanks to drought

vt-author-image

By Carina Murphy

Article saved!Article saved!

This summer, intense droughts hit Texas, drying up rivers and baking the land.

But the extreme heat has had one benefit: it's given us a glimpse of a long-dead Texan from 113 million years ago.

As you might guess from the name, prehistoric remains are often found in Dinosaur Valley State Park outside Dallas. However, the footprints of one dinosaur - an Acrocanthosaurus - were previously inaccessible to archeologists because they lay at the bottom of the Paluxy River.

But thanks to the drought - which is reportedly the most extreme in the region for over 1,200 years - the Paluxy has recently dried up, and the Acrocanthosaurus tracks have been revealed.

A relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Acrocanthosaurus was an apex predator that stood 15 feet tall and lived over 113 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous period.

wp-image-1263166422 size-full
Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Tracks Dinosaur Valley State Park. Credit: Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Tracks Dinosaur Valley State Park

Footage of the tracks shows three huge toes splayed out from the heel, much like a T-Rex's footprint might look. Park Superintended Jeff Davis told the BBC that the recently exposed footprints are called the "Lone Ranger trackway" and belong to a single dinosaur who walked the trail for around 100ft.

According to the state park's website, tracks were first found there in 1909. Though the site currently sits about 70 miles outside Dallas, in the Early Cretaceous period it was on the edge of an ocean and covered by a soft mud perfect for preserving dinosaur footprints.

wp-image-1263166421 size-full
Tracks in the Paluxy River. Credit: All Canada Photos / Alamy

Meanwhile, the Acrocanthosaurus whose tracks were found at the bottom of the Paluxy was likely not the only of its species to walk through the park. Many of the footprints found there belong to therapods (like Acrocanthosaurus and T-Rex), though there is also evidence of sauropods like the Brontosaurus.

The tracks are also not the only sunken secret to be revealed by the ongoing 'megadrought' in the southwest of the US, which according to a recent study marks the driest period in the area for over 1,200 years.

wp-image-1263166423 size-full
Acrocanthosaurus display. Credit: Jason Pulley / Alamy

Per The Independent, five sets of human remains and a Second World War era boat have been found in Lake Mead - the US's largest reservoir - as water levels drop due to dry conditions.

Featured Image Credit: Don Klumpp / Alamy