Crossing Paths: Jurassic Park

That's a big bird.

That’s a big bird.

Around 150 million years ago, in the Late Jurassic, an 18-ton sauropod, possibly a Camarasaur (think Brontosaur), walked along a rippled sandbar by a river, leaving a track of great sucking holes with its enormous platter-sized feet.

Then, danger: a pack of theropods, likely formidable T-Rex-like Allosaurs, appeared to the left and the Camarasaur swung right, leaving an arc of tracks, crossed by the three-toed bird-like prints of at least five of the 3-ton predators. Shortly after their crossing, fine sand filled in the tracks, which were then deeply buried as part of the Salt Wash member of the Morrison formation. Eons later, in 1989, the paths were uncovered when a road to a copper mine was built through this area, off highway 191 north of Moab, exposing the tracks.

The thing about dinosaur trackways is they often don’t look like anything special, just an odd-shaped depression in the rock. You have to stop and really look and use your imagination. A little water helps too…

Allosaurus!

Allosaurus Track #1

Allosaurus Track #2

Allosaurus Track #2

Allosaurus Track #3

Allosaurus Track #3

The Allosaurus Trackway

The Allosaurus Trackway

Sauropod Track. Suauropod prints are rarely preserved and even more rarely identified, mainly because they don't look like anything special.

Sauropod Track. Sauropod prints are rarely preserved and even more rarely identified, mainly because they don’t look like anything special.

Dio crossing paths with the Camarasaur, crossing paths with the Allosaur

Dio crossing paths with the Camarasaur, crossing paths with the Allosaur

To visit the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway, drive north from Moab on 191 for 23 miles to a signed turnoff just past mile marker 148 and follow the signs to the trackway, which runs across a tilted sandstone slab less than a quarter mile from the trailhead. There is good free camping down this road as well. Check out my previous post on dinosaur trackways: Monsters of Navajoland.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Crossing Paths: Jurassic Park

  1. susank456 says:

    Awesome shots! So cool.

  2. Andy says:

    Dinosaur tracks. How cool is that?!

  3. Andy says:

    Reblogged this on City Jackdaw and commented:
    How cool would this be- walking along dinosaur tracks? I normally make do with Sparrows, and, dare I say it-Jackdaws.

    • Andy says:

      Also-just like your tarantula shot from a previous post- the kids love this! Your posts are engaging them with an enthusiastic interest in the world. Thank you!

  4. ritaroberts says:

    Mary thanks so much for these wonderful photo’s. I would just love to be there myself to see Dinosaur tracks. But your pics are the next best thing, they are so clear.

  5. Beautiful and informative as always. If you are ever in the St George, UT area, check out a new museum there, the Dinosaur Discovery at Johnson Farm, http://www.dinosite.org/, one of the finest collections of tracks I have ever seen. While developing some land, an overturned slab exposed numerous tracks and the area has been turned into a huge display and learning center for dinosaur enthusiast such as ourselves.

  6. Upriverdavid says:

    Howdy, I just want to say that I enjoy your site!!..Nice pictures and always an adventure.
    Thanks,
    Upriverdavid

  7. Pingback: Me & My Shadows: Four Corners | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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