Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have made a groundbreaking discovery in Denali National Park and Preserve, uncovering the largest known single dinosaur track site in Alaska. Named “The Coliseum”, this site spans an impressive one-and-a-half football fields and is teeming with dinosaur footprints. These findings provide valuable insights into the dinosaur species that once inhabited Interior Alaska approximately 70 million years ago.
The researchers’ detailed descriptions of The Coliseum, along with their findings, have been recently published in the journal Historical Biology. What sets this site apart from others is its unique sequence through time, consisting of multiple levels of rock that each hold their own set of dinosaur footprints. Initially, the site seemed unremarkable, but when the sunlight aligns perfectly with the rock beds, the footprints become visible in stunning detail.
The cliffs that form The Coliseum were once sediment on flat ground near a watering hole on a large flood plain during the Late Cretaceous Period. The tracks themselves are a combination of hardened impressions in ancient mud and casts of tracks that were filled with sediment and then hardened over time. As the researchers explored the site further, they also unearthed fossilized plants, pollen grains, and evidence of freshwater shellfish and invertebrates, offering a glimpse into the ancient environment that existed millions of years ago.
Among the various dinosaur species represented at The Coliseum, the researchers discovered that large plant-eating duck-billed and horned dinosaurs were the most common visitors over thousands of years. They found tracks of juveniles as well as adults, indicating a long history of dinosaur activity in the area.
Preserving fossil sites like The Coliseum is a crucial part of the National Park Service’s mission, as they offer valuable scientific and historical insights into the Earth’s past. The researchers now plan to continue their study of The Coliseum and collaborate with the National Park Service to explore other potential dinosaur track sites in the area.
This groundbreaking discovery in Denali National Park not only sheds light on Alaska’s dinosaur history but also underscores the importance of conserving and studying fossil sites for future generations to appreciate and learn from. The Coliseum serves as a remarkable testament to the ancient world that once thrived in this region of Alaska.
“Social media scholar. Reader. Zombieaholic. Hardcore music maven. Web fanatic. Coffee practitioner. Explorer.”