As old as 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks will open for public this fall near Moab. More than 200 tracks were kept secret from the public for past 5 years, as paleontologists carried out studies.
The tracks are present in the southeast of Utah. A resident discovered the tracks in 2009 and since then, a team of researchers led by University of Colorado at Denver has studied and photographed these tracks.
Researchers said these tracks found in a dry wash were from 10 different extinct species of the Cretaceous period. The tracks are present in an area, which is no larger than a football field, said BLM paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster.
The area is one of the most important areas of Cretaceous-period tracks that have ever been found in North America. Tracks of a Tyrannosaurus ancestor and footprints of duckbilled dinosaurs, prehistoric birds, long-necked plant eaters and a dromaeosau had been found.
There are imprints of an ancient crocodile also, said researchers. The imprints show the chest, body, tail and one foot. It is considered that these imprints were made when the crocodile was pushing off the water.
Paleontologists think that these tracks formed over several days in possibly a shallow lake. It seems that these tracks were then covered by sediments that helped in their preservations. With passage of time, more sediment built up and rains eroded away layers of the rock and revealed the footprints.
The site will open in October. At that time, the site will be designed in such a manner that the trail will lead people to the tracks and will also explain what are they looking at. Officials are also raising funds, so they can provide shade and boardwalk.
Preparations have already started as volunteers are carrying out different tasks like sweeping, brushing and scrapping the ground, so the tracks can be seen and can be photographed in 3D by researchers, who want to create permanent record.