Scientists dig deeper into dino tracks in Glen Rose

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 22 at 6:18 PM

GLEN ROSE, Texas - Texas is full of old stuff -- and we're not just talking about the Alamo.

About an hour-and-a-half southwest of Dallas, in Glen Rose, you'll find some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world.

Now, with the discovery of new tracks in the area, scientists are getting a better understanding of how the dino's may have lived.

Paleontologist Jerry Jacene stumbled on dinosaur tracks, right behind the Comfort Inn, in 2010. He named it the Joanna site.

"It's kind of like Christopher Columbus discovering America," he said. "Everyone knows he didn't really do it. But he gets credit for it."

Jacene said he doesn't particularly want credit. He wants to know more about the dinosaurs that traipsed through here millions of years ago, back when Glen Rose was a mud field on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

"In a small space of 20-by-50 feet, we've exposed 43 tracks,” he said.

The Joanna site adds context to the Glen Rose area, because it is at a higher elevation then previous discoveries, making the prints newer. The power washing at Joanna helps determine the age of the layers above Jacene's work site.

"It's just like a detective," Jacene said. "We gotta get all these clues to look at it and tell what's taken place at this time."

The work at Joanna corresponds with a separate five-year project, funded in part by the National Geographic Society. Scientist are mapping and latex-casting the prints in the well-established Dinosaur Valley State Park.

The National Geographic research in the park could learn a lot from the Joanna site.

While the prints in the Park are fairly pristine, things like worms and shrimp have burrowed through the Joanna prints.

Geologist James Farlow with Indiana Purdue University is the lead scientist on the project.

"As they went about their wormy or shrimpy business, they basically hashed up the dinosaur tracks,” Farlow said.

Farlow said burrowing critters live in specific environments. So studying the burrows may tell scientists more environment the dinosaurs lived in.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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