Dinosaur "Dance Floor" Found in Arizona

Rebecca Carroll
for National Geographic News
October 21, 2008

At least four types of Jurassic dinosaurs left more than a thousand footprints and tail-drag marks at a remote site in northern Arizona, according to a new study.

About 190 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, the area was likely an oasis surrounded by a vast desert, researchers said.

"All these footprints at a watering hole might tell us something about the social life of the dinosaurs," said Marjorie Chan of the University of Utah.

Chan wonders which species might have mingled at this "dinosaur dance floor."

She co-authored the study with University of Utah graduate student Winston Seiler, who found the site in 2006.

(Related: "First Dinosaur Tracks Found on Arabian Peninsula" [May 20, 2008].)

But the research has received mixed reactions from area paleontologists, with some doubting the tracks' authenticity.

Their work appears this month in the journal Palaios.

Crossing Dino Paths

Chan noted that the prints appear in what was once very wet, soft sand, which allowed for deep impressions.

"You can see the mounds of the sand going around their toes," she said.

Dinosaur footprints are named according to their shape and can't be linked conclusively to an exact species and genus without other evidence, such as bones. But some of a creature's habits can be guessed from its tracks.

Continued on Next Page >>


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.