Drought and intense heat have unearthed dozens of dinosaur tracks normally hidden under murky water and mud at a Texas park, photos show.
Paul Baker, retail manager at Dinosaur Valley State Park, has been working tirelessly alongside others to reveal the mud-caked tracks, he told McClatchy News in a phone interview.
“It’s been a very hard, hot process but we’re getting there,” Baker said, adding that the limestone bed of the Paluxy River has been reaching temperatures up to 128 degrees.
Somervell County, where the park is located, is under “extreme drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
So far, nearly 70 dinosaur prints have been found and cataloged, though he expects as many as 90 new prints could be located in the days ahead.
“This will be the most tracks we have ever seen at this location,” Baker said in a Facebook post. “A ton of data has been gathered from this site which will be used for a giant dinosaur track mapping project along with castings for future interpretive uses.”
Photos show many of the new prints, large, distinct marks left in the rock, unmistakably prehistoric.
“I hate to brag, but I will,” Baker told McClatchy. “We have the best tracks in the world.”
The three-toed prints were likely left by Acrocanthosaurus, a predatory dinosaur similar to the more famous T-rex, while the more rounded tracks were made by Sauropodseiden, a towering long-necked herbivore, according to Baker. Both species date back more than 110 million years.
Additionally, “we’re finding some unique smaller tracks we’ve never seen before,” Baker said. “We’re not sure what they are.”
Baker and other dinosaur enthusiasts and experts can feel the clock ticking, he said. The next time it rains, all of the tracks will likely disappear again.
The park found itself in a similar situation last year, due to drought. It’s unusual and unfortunate, Baker said, but the prints are a silver lining.
“This has been a really weird two years for us, a very unique opportunity,” he said.
Visitors willing to brave the heat are encouraged to visit and get an up close look at the tracks before they’re gone.
“It’s like going into a museum except you can touch the pieces,” Baker said.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is roughly 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth.