New Dinosaur Finds Astonish Paleontologists
Some recent dinosaur discoveries on different sides of the world have produced amazement among scientists and the public as well.
- Tire tracks uncover dino tracks: ATVs and dirt bikes have ridden for years over a place that is now found to be loaded with dinosaur tracks. Near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah, reported the Salt Lake Tribune, thousands of dinosaur tracks were discovered in an area thought to have been a desert – “as harsh as the Sahara” – when dinosaurs roamed there. Associated Press and National Geographic News gave short summaries of the story.
The Tribune said that one species of carnivore was as small as a robin. Five other species, including a 3-toed crocodile and a plant-eater 35 feet long, were found across dozens of layers of rock. “You rarely find herbivores in a desert,” said Martin Lockley, curator of the Dinosaur Tracks Museum at the University of Colorado at Denver. As paleontologists flock to the site, one question will be what conditions allowed these prints to be preserved in a dry desert.
Dinosaur tracks are known in other places in the southwest, such as near Tuba City, Arizona, and Zion National Park. Another dinosaur trove is being explored in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park east of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (10/09/2007, bullet 1). And far away and down under, Science Daily reported a track site in Australia. Dinosaur tracks have even been found in Israel (search list at Bible Places), but when they walked there, maybe only Job knows.
- Spanish inquisitive: Imagine more than 8,000 dinosaurs, some 65 feet long, buried together in one location. That’s what The Times Online (UK) reported about a site between Madrid and Valencia that was discovered during excavations for a rail line. 100 titanosaurs are included in this massive graveyard that includes a wealth of other plant and animal species.
The traditional dating of the strata, 80 million years old, represents a time when the number of dinosaur species was supposed to be sharply declining. “Palaeontologists working in Lo Hueco, though, have been amazed to find a wide variety of dinosaurs from the period.” No less remarkable is the manner in which they died. “The range of species they are finding at the 80 million-year-old site and their state of conservation is virtually unparalleled in Europe and challenges long-held beliefs about the way in which dinosaurs became extinct.” One of the excavators remarked, “Everything indicates that the dinosours [sic] were enjoying great evolutionary vigour when they suddenly disappeared.”
Excavators are hurrying to sift through 20,000 kg of sediment so that railway digging can continue. The site is 80 to 100 times the size of a normal excavation in terms of time and money, the report said. They expect to find dozens of smaller species.
Surprisingly, American science news media are not reporting this story. A report from Expatica counts 30 paleontologists and geologists working flat-out with volunteers to preserve the bones before construction resumes. This is one of Europe’s most spectacular dinosaur finds (cf. Switzerland and Germany, 08/15/2007). “The state of conservation is incredible,” the director of the dig said. “There are articulated skeletons, for example, a neck that is several meters long with all its vertebrae and ribs in place.” The article says the pit is 20 meters deep. It appears to be in a fluvial channel, where “the animals were probably washed into it by heavy flooding.”
Sometimes the reactions of scientists are as interesting as the fossils. One of the directors of the dig in Spain said, “This is completely beyond what we expected to find. This represents a huge leap in our understanding of the Upper Cretaceous.” This can only mean that before the huge leap, there was less than understanding.
The pit in Spain is a phenomenal discovery—where are the dinosaur media? Are they afraid that creationists will jump on it? This doesn’t look like slow, gradual evolution or uniformitarianism: it looks like a giant flood buried them all. Maybe the same flood hit Switzerland, Germany and Norway (04/25/2006). Toss in Australia and Montana while we’re at it. Maybe the Utah group was running for their lives. Maybe yes, maybe Noah.
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