DINOSAUR VALLEY STATE PARK (& Surroundings)

FIELD TRIP STOP – DINOSAUR VALLEY (Cretaceous Dinosaur Footprints)

 

LOCATION:  The park is located four miles west of Glen Rose. TX. Take U.S. Highway 67 to FM 205 for four miles to Park Road 59; then go one mile to the park headquarters. After heavy rains the footprints in the park might not be visible; however, there are private areas just outside the park boundary where tracks can be observed (for a nominal fee).

 

GEOLOGIC FEATURES: Cretaceous Glen Rose Formation (120 myo) with dinosaur (Theropod and Sauropod) trackways.

 

DESCRIPTION: The Glen Rose Formation consists of limestone and sandstone beds separated by thin layers of mudstone representing numerous fluctuations in sea level (transgressions and regressions). Weathering of the soft mudstone between the harder sediment, gives a step-like appearance to the outcrops. In the Lower Glen Rose Member numerous footprints of two-legged carnivorous Theropods (Acrocanthosaurus) having three clawed toes, and plant-eating Sauropods (Sauroposeidon) having saucer-shaped footprints are found in the firmer sediments thought to have represented tidal flats, lagoons, marshes or nearby environments.

STUDENT QUESTIONS:

(1) What types of measurements can you make that involve the dinosaur footprints and their distribution?

(2) What types of life habits do you suppose could be inferred from your measurements noted above?

(3) Search the internet and provide the link to a scientific study that examines the morphology and life habits of dinosaurs as interpreted from the study of footprints.

SELECTED REFERENCES:

-Spearing, D. 1991. Roadside Geology of Texas. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 418 pp.

-Texas Parks and Wildlife. Dinosaur Valley State Park. Accessed on Oct. 25, 2022.  https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/dinosaur-valley

-Texas Parks and Wildlife. Interpretive Guide-Dinosaur Valley State Park. Accessed on Oct. 25, 2022.-https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_br_p4503_0094s.pdf

PHOTOS:

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Figure 1 -  Footprints of three-toed carnivorous Theropod dinosaur. Cretaceous Period (120 myo).[Photo taken outside the main Park boundary at a privately owned site.]

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Figure 2 -  Trackway of Theropod dinosaur. Muddy layers between firmer limestone and sandstone promotes a "step-like" appearance of the eroded Glen Rose Formation.  [Photo taken outside the main Park boundary at a privately owned site.]

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Figure 3 -  Water in the trackway from a recent rainfall helped to make the footprints more visible.[Photo taken outside the main Park boundary at a privately owned site.]

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Figure 4 -  Footprints without a water accumulation gives the footprint less contrast. [Photo taken outside the main Park boundary at a privately owned site.]

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Figure 5 - Exposure of the Lower Member of the Glen Rose Formation along the Paluxy River within the Park boundaries.

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Figure 6 -  Exposure of the Lower Member of the Glen Rose Formation along the Paluxy River within the Park boundaries. Slabs of limestone lead the way to the "Main Track Site."

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Figure 7 -  Theropod footprint seen at the "Main Track Site" within the Park boundaries.

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Figure 8 -  Probable saucer-shaped footprints of hind legs of Sauropod seen below the water level of the Paluxy River near the "Main Track Site" found within the Park boundaries.

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Figure 9 -  Photograph of the sign near the "Ballroom Site" showing extensive trackways within the Park.

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Figure 10-  Model of a typical Theropod footprint displayed within the Park Museum,

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Figure 11 -  Model of a Theropod foot and associated footprint displayed within the Park's Museum.

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Figure 12 -  Model of a typical Sauropod footprint displayed in the Park's Museum.

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Figure 13 -  Model of a Sauropod hind foot and associated footprint displayed in the Park's Museum.

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Figure 14 -  Typical measurements made on a dinosaur trackway used to determine dinosaur speed displayed in the Park's Museum.