Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dinosaur Valley State Park

While visiting Texas, we really wanted Jasper to see Dinosaur Valley State Park. During the age of dinosaurs much of Texas was covered by a shallow sea. Along the edge of that sea, on a muddy shore, dinosaurs left their footprints which hardened into fossils. The fossils were eventually uncovered by erosion from the Paluxy River. The tracks are all made by sauropods (long-necked herbivores, most likely Sauroposeidon proteles) and theropods (carnivores, most likely Acrocanthosaurus). One set of tracks actually shows a theropod chasing a sauropod, and since its gait was faster, it probably caught it! Of course, the erosion is ongoing. As the river continues to flow over these tracks, they are gradually being lost.  But for now, it's a place where you can actually go and touch a dinosaur track, even put your hand inside and feel the curve of the theropod's claws. Of course Jasper loved this, but he was equally as interested in the critters living there today.  Especially the frogs and lizards which are unlike the ones we see in Oregon.  He also found a few fossils which we believe are from orthocones, extinct cephalopods which had long, cone shaped shells.  
Orthocone fossil.  Photo by Jasper.
Grasshopper.  Photo by Jasper.

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