In the Footsteps of the Dinosaurs

Quarry workers discover the footprints

During the Cretaceous Period of geological history between 136 and 65 million years ago these huge slabs of rock were simply a bed of soft mud around a drying freshwater lake. The tectonic movements of the earth's crustal plates has thrust the ancient sediments upwards at an extraordinary angle of 73 degrees from the horizontal. The main face or cliff is 80m high and up to 1.2km long. Today this is a limestone quarry known as Cal Orko - cal in Spanish means 'lime' - and although the fossils had been known for some time workers only began to uncover the tracks in 1994. 
More than 8 different species of dinosaurs are believed to have crossed this drying lake bed. As it hardened their footprints were covered by more sediments or perhaps the dust from the surrounding land. They have been held in a time-capsule for between 65 and 75 million years. One set of tracks made by a theropod dinosaur stretches for 350m and is the longest ever recorded. The largest prints are from the huge titanosaurs a quadripedal [walking on four legs] plant eater. These gigantic beasts reached a length of between 15 and 25m. According to the palaeontologists studying the trackways the most important discovery has been the prints of ankylosaurs. These were four legged animals with a heavy plated armour and were previously unknown in dinosaur records from South America.
The footprints are now carefully guarded and are being studied by Bolivian, Swiss and other international palæontologists.. The site is now a tourist attraction with English speaking guides. Until the full extent of the discovery was known the largest set of dinosaur tracks was believed to be in Asia at Khjoda-Pil-ata in Turkmenistan. The Sucre site with more than 5000 prints covering 25,000 m2 is now recognised as the largest in the world. It has not only led to a better understanding dinosaurs of South America but to the entire science of early life in this corner of the ancient world. Other fossils from the area suggest that the the dinosaurs gathered at the lakeside to search for food. With time studies will reveal much more evidence and already another site has been found.


More information can be found by searching for the name of Dr. Cristian Meyer the palæontologist who led the research

Thanks are also given to the late Dr. Alan Charig of the British Museum [Natural History] and the late Dr. Ovidio Suárez Morales of the Bolivian National Academy of Sciences for their inspiring comments about dinosaurs in Bolivia long before these tracks were discovered

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