Dino tracks found in Utah's Moab desert are nearly ready for their public debut — 125 million years after they were left behind by the scaly behemoths.
"Over 200 tracks that we're aware of so far that we've uncovered, and at least one case where there's 17 consecutive prints from the same animal," volunteer Lee Shenton told KSL TV
. Shenton is one of a dozen volunteers scraping and sweeping the prints, preparing for public viewing. The previously undisclosed location is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.
"I think it's going to be something really important. It has at least a dozen different animals," he said.
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First discovered by a Moab resident in 2009, scientists from the University of Colorado and the Bureau of Land Management have been studying the site since last year, and determined that the tracks came from the cretaceous period.
BLM paleontologist Rebecca Hunt-Foster said the tracks "fill in these gaps about these animals that we don't know much about, that we know were here, but we just don't find their bones."
Among the various species that left the tracks, she said, are a giant crocodile, a three-toed carnivore, and a Utahraptor — similar to the raptors seen in movies like "Jurassic Park."
She said that among the standard paleontology procedures, the team is also looking forward to taking 3D photographs of the prints.
"Then we'll be able to replicate any of the tracks, should they ever be damaged or destroyed," Hunt-Foster explained. "People will be able to study them without doing damage to the actual surface."
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