A Dinosaur Walks into the Museum

What scientific "detectives" deduced from the biggest footprints ever found

shelving ledge

Left: THE BIG TRAIL led toward a shelving ledge and disappeared beneath it. One local man, inclined to scoff at the notion of finding additional tracks beneath the undisturbed overburden beyond, laughingly said, “Why, that animal didn’t walk under all that rock!” Actually, of course, the dinosaur walked before the overlying rock was deposited as soft sediment. From a study of the rocks the scientist can reconstruct the landscape and climate at the time. Right: A VIEW looking upstream along the tracks which had been underwater discloses positive proof that this great animal walked on all fours, for the hind and front footprints are clearly discernible in regular order. Only in one trail, at Bandera, were there eight or nine forefoot impressions and only one hind one, where a sauropod, buoyed up enough to go on fore legs, had put down a hind foot to turn. The absence of any mark of a dragging tail except in one instance was the next clue to the dinosaur’s habits. Fully 25 feet long and very heavy, the tail could not have been carried in the air. Therefore, the animal must have waded in the water, where the tail, tending to float, could have been held off the bottom.

Roland T. Bird

excavation

AN EXCAVATION revealed much more of the path of the dinosaur, which swung gradually to the right. Was the dinosaur alone when he waded across the mud flat 120 million years ago?

Roland T. Bird

dinosaur trail found

ANOTHER TRAIL is found. While widening the excavation, a new series of even more promising tracks was located, coming in from the north on the bank side. Again beckoned by the unknown, the diggers began a new excavation to trace this second trail. Further surprises were in store.

Roland T. Bird

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