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Rare Fossilized Footprints Exhibited at Colorado National Monument


Top: Fossilized lizard tracks of a type never found before in Colorado's Morrison Formation. Bottom: Dinosaur track. NPS photos.

Colorado National Monument celebrated National Fossil Day on Wednesday, October 13, with the unveiling of an exhibit displaying three sets of fossilized footprints.

The ancient tracks date to the Jurassic Period (145-200 million years ago), the middle period of the "Age of Reptiles." The fossilized footprints in the exhibit include:

Turtle tracks discovered in the park in 2005. Footprints of this particular type are extremely rare, having been found at only one other site in North America.

• Intact tracks of a three-toed dinosaur. It is not yet known whether the dinosaur that made these seven-inch long tracks, which were discovered in the park on 16 September 2010, was a carnivore or a plant eater.

• Lizard tracks of a type never before found in Colorado's Morrison Formation, the most fertile source of dinosaur fossils in North America. Like the three-toed dinosaur tracks, these lizard tracks -- a very exciting discovery -- were found in the park only very recently. On 22 September 2010, a park employee working along Rim Rock Drive moved a rock and this fossil literally fell out.

Paleontologists John Foster and George Callison, together with geologist William Hood, were on hand during the unveiling to share information about their scientific discoveries. All three had done extensive research in the park.

The fossilized footprint exhibit will be available for public viewing at the park's visitor center from 9:00 to 5:00 daily through Sunday, October 17.

For additional information about the exhibit, contact Superintendent Joan Anzelmo or Chief of Interpretation Michelle Wheatley at 970-858-3617.

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