Enormous and previously unseen dinosaur footprints were uncovered in Texas in the wake of a drought drying the Paluxy River, which flows through Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, around 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Due to the intense drought conditions gripping the state and others in the U.S. southwest last week, the waterline at the Paluxy River considerably receded, revealing the footprints in the riverbed.
A video posted by Dinosaur Valley State Park on social media showed the newly uncovered footprints in the muddy riverbed, which measured several human hands across.
“The Paluxy River has pretty much gone dry this drought,” said a park worker in the Facebook video shared on August 17. “What’s cool about the river is what you’ll find in the river. Sweep a little bit of the dirt and dust away, and this is what you’ll find… dinosaur tracks.”
The worker notes how the tracks have three large claw marks, meaning they belong to a dinosaur from the theropod class. This was confirmed in a 2012 study, which also said the river holds tracks from the sauropod class.
Sauropods include herbivorous dinosaur species like Diplodocus and Brontosaurus with large, flat elephant-like feet. In contrast, theropods, like Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors, had clawed, three-toed feet.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is home to a variety of dinosaur prints, primarily from sauropods and theropods, but it is the first time tracks in the riverbed have been seen.
“These are normally underwater so you don’t easily get to see these… well in shallow water, covered in dirt and silt,” said the worker.
The tracks in the park were thought to have been left around 113 million years ago during the mid-Cretaceous Era when the Dallas area was on the shore of a sea. The mud at this shoreline made the ideal consistency to preserve footprints, according to the park website.
The park also shared several photos of volunteers cleaning out the long trail of prints as they worked on “dinosaur track mapping,” which consists of measuring the tracks, the park commented in its posts.
The tracks have likely been covered again due to heavy rainfall that passed through Texas on Monday.
“When it starts raining they will fill up with water and mud. Most likely we will not see them like this again for a very long time,” the park said.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Parks Service due to its display of dinosaur tracks. It is located at 1629 Park Road 59 in Glen Rose, Texas, and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.