A whole bunch of muddy footprints in outback Queensland represent the world’s only recorded evidence of a genuine dinosaur stampede.
One fateful day around 95 million years ago, a large herd of at least 150 two-legged dinosaurs gathered on the edge of a lake. The dinosaurs (carnivorous Coelurosaurs about the size of a chicken and slightly larger plant-eating Ornithopods) were all in a rush to avoid being eaten for breakfast by a four-ton Therapod.
The little chicken-livers took off across the muddy flats leaving a chaotic mass of 3300 footprints in the mud. The fossilised footprints show how the big fellow, with steps up to two metres long, stalked his prey before finally nabbing one.
The tracks indicate that the Coelurosaurs ran at speeds of about 9-15km/h, and the Ornithopods at about 10-30km/h. A few days after the footprints were made it rained and the tracks were covered with sandy sediments. The next flood buried them under a metre of sand and mud. As millions of years passed, the sediment layers were compressed to form rock.
First discovered in the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1971 that the full story unfolded at what’s now known as Lark Quarry. However, once uncovered the tracks began to deteriorate, so in 2002 a $2.5million environmentally sustainable conservation building was erected over the tracks.
Where // The Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways are 120km southwest of Winton in central Qld. (07) 4657 1342, www.dinosaurtrackways.com.au
Did you know? // The Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways inspired the famous stampede scene Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
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