Dinosaur footprints revealed by drought from 113 million years ago

The footprint belonged to an Acrocanthosaurus, a large carnivore of the early Cretaceous period

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Wednesday 24 August 2022 09:54 BST
Dinosaur footprints from 113 million years ago uncovered in Texas after drought
Leer en Español

Seriously dry conditions outside Dallas have uncovered evidence of a long-dead Texan.

Footprints from an Acrocanthosaurus — a 113 million-year-old dinosaur — normally lie at the bottom of the Paluxy River inside Dinosaur Valley State Park.

But as intense drought hit Texas this summer, the river dried up and revealed the prehistoric tracks.

A representative from the state park told CNN that the newly-revealed tracks belonged to an Acrocanthosaurus, a relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that stood 15 feet (4.6 metres) high.

Footage of the tracks shows three wide toes splaying out from the heel, reminiscent of Jurassic Park. Acrocanthosaurus actually lived a bit after the Jurassic, in the Early Cretaceous period.

Tracks at the state park were first discovered in 1909, according to their website. By the 1930s, palaeontologists had identified tracks in the park as belonging to theropods – like Acrocanthosaurus and T. rex – and sauropods, similar to the famous Brontosaurus.

In 2022, Dinosaur Valley State Park sits about 70 miles outside of Dallas. But in the Early Cretaceous, this area was on the edge of an ocean and covered in mud that collected dinosaur tracks, the park’s website says.

The area of Texas near Dinosaur Valley State Park is in the middle of “extreme” to “exceptional” drought conditions, according to the US government’s drought monitor.

This dry period is part of the ongoing “megadrought” in the southwestern US, which plagued the region for over 20 years. According to a recent study, this is the driest period in the region for at least 1,200 years.

Other long-gone secrets – though not quite as long-gone – have also been revealed in the southwest as a result of the drought. In Lake Mead, officials have found five sets of human remains this summer, including one believed to be the victim of a crime from the late 1970s or early 1980s.

A sunken boat from the Second World War era has also been revealed as the lake’s shoreline shrinks.

The current megadrought is being powered by the climate crisis, and scientists expect droughts to get worse and more frequent as the planet continues to warm.

In addition to drought, Texas has also faced repeated heatwaves this summer, with temperatures regularly exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Intense storms this week in Dallas have left many roadways flooded and at least one person dead.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in