Drought in Texas makes unexpected discovery, dinosaur footprints emerge from 113 million years ago

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A severe drought in Texas has revealed a series of 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks.
The prehistoric footprints left on the riverbed by a single acrocanthosaur at Dinosaur Valley State Park are some of the best preserved in the world, according to park superintendent Jeff Davis.

The massive footprints had been obscured under water and several layers of sediment since 2000. A recent drought caused the level of the Paluxy River to drop significantly.

Last week, 87 percent of Texas was experiencing one of the three most serious categories of drought — severe, extreme and exceptional.
Dubbed the Lone Ranger trackway, the recently exposed tracks belonged to an acrocanthosaurus that walked the track for about 30 meters, making it one of the longest dinosaur tracks in the world.
“So the Paluxy River is pretty dry,” said Paul Baker of Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park, a nonprofit that works with the park, in footage of the tracks shared on Facebook.

“What is interesting is what you will find in the river. Brush away some of the dirt and dust and that’s what you’ll find – dinosaur tracks. You’ll see claw marks from a fairly decent sized theropod. These are wonderful, wonderful songs. And these are normally underwater, so you can’t usually see these,” he added.

Acrocanthosaurus, a theropod best known for the long spines on many of its vertebrae, left about 140 tracks in total with about 60 visible now.

A distant cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex, acrocanthosaurus were large bipedal predators, with the largest specimens weighing around 3.6-4.4 tons and reaching 11 meters in length.

Volunteers and park staff worked quickly to map and monitor the dinosaur tracks before the tracks were buried back near the river.

“[The park] will continue to protect these 113-million-year-old footprints not only for current generations, but for generations to come,” a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman told reporters.

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