VALLEY OF FIRE, NV – Movie fans know plenty about the ferocious, gargantuan dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic period, but scientists are still learning about smaller, less cinematic animals that also lived back then.
Some of the blanks have now been filled in because of a discovery made by a pair of hikers.
The Valley of Fire State Park is stark and striking, and looks nothing like the movie version of the Jurassic period.
However, tens of millions of years ago, it was home to little-known creatures who looked like a cross between reptiles and mammals. Two hikers, a father and son, came across strange tracks that were left in what was once a west sandy dune.
The critters are known as therapsids.
Fossilized bones have been found elsewhere in the world, but the nine sets of tracks preserved in the sets of rocks offer unique insight into how the animals lived.
“We have a few bones and teeth in different parts of the world but the thing about tracks is it tells us something about behavior that you can’t get from the bones. We can actually see these animals moving. This particular locality might be one of the few, as far as I know, it might be the first in the world.”Steve Rowland / Paleontologist, UNLV
The location of the tracks has been kept quiet, in part because there were other prints left in the same spot, by unknown creatures and scientists want to preserve them for future study.
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