Footprints Of A Reptile-like Creature Discovered In Grand Canyon

Posted: Nov 10 2018, 10:47am CST | by , Updated: Nov 10 2018, 10:52am CST, in Latest Science News


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Footprints of a Reptile-like Creature Discovered in Grand Canyon
Credit: Stephen Rowland

The footprints were created some 310 million years ago, which makes them the oldest ever to be found in Grand Canyon National Park

Geologists have uncovered a set of 28 footprints along a hiking trail in Grand Canyon National Park. The footprints were left by a reptile-like creature and are cemented in a 310 million-year-old rock, making them oldest tracks ever to be found in the site.

"It's the oldest trackway ever discovered in the Grand Canyon in an interval of rocks that nobody thought would have trackways in it, and they're among the earliest reptile tracks on earth.” Geologist Stephen Rowland from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said in a statement.

The fossilized footprints cover a boulder along the Bright Angel Trail in the national park. The creature that made those footprints was possibly similar in size to a modern-day lizard. The tiny footprints reveal that reptiles were present on Earth millions of years ago.

“In terms of reptile tracks, this is really old.” Rowland said.

The tracks were brought to light in spring 2016 with the help of Rowland’s colleague who was hiking the trail with a group of students. The footprints were embedded in a boulder that ended up on trail after the collapse of a cliff.

At the time, researchers thought that the footprints probably belonged to two creatures.

"My first impression was that it looked very bizarre because of the sideways motion," said Rowland. "It appeared that two animals were walking side-by-side. But you wouldn't expect two lizard-like animals to be walking side-by-side. It didn't make any sense."

Later, they turned up some fascinating explanations for the peculiar pattern of footprints.

"One reason I've proposed is that the animal was walking in a very strong wind, and the wind was blowing it sideways.” Rowland said.

Another possibility is that the slope was too steep that the animal had to sidestep as it climbed the sand dune. While several instances of isolated reptile footprints have been found before, the Grand Canyon tracks are unique. They could belong to a reptile species that has not yet been identified.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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