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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Track Lighting: Dinosaur "Dance Floor" in Bolivia -- Over 5,500 Footprints

       These late Cretaceous dinosaur footprint fossils on a near-vertical outcrop in Bolivia represent at least 294 different dinosaurs (and, at least 8 species) with over 5,500 footprints.

       The paleontological site, known as Cal Orck'o, is located a few kilometers south of Bolivia's Sucre city center.

       Although, I imagine there was more chasing than dancing on this "Dinosaur Dance Floor," it is an exquisite find, uncovered in 1994, in a cement quarry. Both carnivores and herbivores are represented. This longest set of tracks is over 350 footprints! Parco Cretacio is now open to the public; 68 million years in the making!

     The tracks were likely created by a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, nicknamed Johnny Walker ;-).

     And these footprints were likely made by an Iguanodon.

      The extent of dinosaur footprints on over 25,000 square meters is being studied by Christian Myer and Martin Lockley (of Colorado Morrison Dinosaur Ridge footprint fame). The largest prints are 3 feet long.

     Tectonic uplift moved these fossil footprints to a 70 degree plus angle. Pretty wild dance party ;-).

Have you been to see the Bolivian dinosaur footprints? Have you seen dino tracks in the Connecticut River Valley or elsewhere?


{The Colorado Dinosaur Ridge footprints are quite spectacular, but are not nearly as extensive as the Bolivian tracks.}


  1. At least they weren't wearing Crocs. Reminds me of this. And of course the Ark Encounter. The gift shop is exactly as described in Exodus. And the Lord saith, "Let there be junk bonds floated by the town". And there were.

    Which of course brings us back to the source of all truth.

    1. Thanks, eco. Two classic cartoons.

      No way is that an "Ark de Triomphe" in Kentucky.

  2. Ok, I do look at the Google Doodle now and then.

    Speaking of arcs and architecture, mom and I are planning an October trip to the Aux Arcs (Ozarks), including visits to Crystal Bridges and Thorncrown Chapel.

    1. Did you go to Crystal Bridges earlier this year, or am I thinking of a different museum and Wright house?

      Maybe I'm (very) old fashioned, but I think Vitruvius' triad still holds true, that architecture shall embody firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty).

      While I somewhat enjoy the playful sculpture of Hadid's work, I worry that the new normative for much popular architecture (Gehry in particular) sacrifices firmitas and utilitas for venustas. It is also more expensive and hence not available to most. And the results from the hands of less-skilled imitators will likely be disastrous, just as the clumsy copies of Mies Van der Rohe's elegant skyscrapers pollute skylines across the country.

      At the same time I struggle with our centuries-old adherence to strict Cartesian philosophies. Occasionally a strawbale building allows an escape from the tyrannical economics of wood or steel framing logic.

    2. Yes, Maizie and I went to Crystal Bridges in April but we missed Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs. Mom, Maizie, and I will reprise the nw Arkansas trip in the fall as Mom was sorry she didn't go with us in the spring.

      I agree with you about venustas (beauty) becoming more important than firmitas (strength) or utilitas (functionality). I think, in some buildings, FLW, gave less importance to strength and functionality, despite his descriptions to the contrary.

      I am looking forward to seeing the Maya Lin-designed library at Smith College. Hoping for a steady, useful, and beautiful, 3-legged stool ;-).

      I agree, eco. Strawbale is, indeed, a wonderful medium to writ large. . .

  3. "After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on -- have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear -- what remains? Nature remains."

    Walt Whitman, poet (31 May 1819-1892)

    (Fellow "WW," sharing birthdays and appreciation of nature.)

    1. Are you writing that today is your birthday? If so make it a joyous day and many happy returns.

      And you could do far worse than having Whitman as your conascent.

    2. Thanks, eco. Indeed. And thanks for connascent. It is a new-to-me word--the perfect birthday gift.

    3. Oops, happy belated birthday, Steph! I think I missed the announcement of the new PEOTS issue.

      Given how ephemeral footprints are, a collection of dinosaur footprints like those sweet ones in Sucre must be vanishingly rare. What does it require, something like mud of just the right consistency, followed by what, a rain of volcanic ash to preserve it intact?

    4. Thanks, jan.

      Just good old dried mud filled with sand or pebbles (though I suppose volcanic ash could work). Mostly, solid drying out of the prints followed by rapid filling-in.

  4. Replies
    1. Way cool, except for the part at the bottom "This research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation" which may be on its way to a black hole. But let's enjoy it while we can.

    2. I know.

      Tough day for our climate.

      Cheery note: Maizie and I had a great hike in Staunton State Park with one other human and two canines. Sun, rain, hail--a splendid day. Maizie is snoring. . .

  5. Happy Birthday, Steph, albeit belated.
    And speaking of...
    "The extent of dinosaur footprints on over 25,000 square meters is being studied by Christian Myer and Martin Lockley (of Colorado Morrison Dinosaur Ridge footprint fame). The largest prints are 3 feet long"...
    ...There is a young acquaintance of mine who is currently serving as a lay Franciscan missionary in Bolivia. It seems to be a land of fossils and footprints that have real meaning for those of us who have faith in science -- a faith that bolsters rather than diminishes our faith in God.
    I'm not sure if my young friend is serving near the site of these footprints. Bolivia is landlocked, of course, so there is no seashore there, as there appears to be in this poem.
    But I believe the Spirit of the verse still applies.


  6. Thanks, Lego. I believe in at least a week-long celebration of this next trip around the sun.

    Hope your friend can visit the dino footprint site. No seashore now in Bolivia, but there likely was one in the past.

    1. And, at the rate we are going, likely may be again in the near future.


  7. Replies
    1. The balance of heavy metals is an intriguing idea, and while there is controversy for the explanation of the increase in reported autism, if lead is the culprit shouldn't there be a sharp decrease in autism?

      We no longer have lead in gasoline, nor in paint, plumbing (etymology notwithstanding, not to mention Flint), toys (at least it's reduced). Though lead is still used as a plasticizer in a variety of materials, including bottles and bags that are in contact with food - how much of our food arrives in plastic containers?

      Finally, I wonder if they are looking at "low functioning" or "high functioning" autistics, or both? Side note: I had a good friend from elementary through high school who I suspect would be diagnosed with autism today. He was painfully shy, but was an excellent student, and could play the very difficult oboe. He was also a calendar savant, and his ability to correctly give the day of the week for any date of any year provided me much fascination on the school bus (I had ripped the perpetual calendar out of the back of the yellow pages). Unlike the people in this study he was correct 100% of the time, had no delay in his response, and the range of dates I quizzed ran from 1750 to 2000 (pretty sure those were the dates on the calendar, I know I would have gone to the extremes). Of course this was before autism was widely discussed, and at 12 or so I was not conducting a scientific study.

    2. eco, I wonder if part of the lead culprit is in plastic, as mentioned in the link you cited:

      "Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms dust."

      Plastic with added lead is also in the lining of aluminum cans.

      As to your calendar savant friend, are you two still in touch? Sounds like a fun way to pass time on a bus ride. . .

  8. Replies
    1. Reminds me of going into the attic and finding an electrocuted rat that was chewing through a wire - its tail was in the perfect "double Z" shape just like in the cartoons.

      But that's probably a rare method for human ingestion, just like the commercials showing kids eating paint chips in the mid 70's. Lead dust was the real problem then, and that was why I raised the issue of lead in plastics, especially those in products that are in contact with food and beverages.

      I also linked to the Center for Environmental Health; they have a campaign for safer plastics, but that seems to be looking at BPAs and other endocrine disrupting chemicals. Their director is an old friend and former client, time to check in.

      And unfortunately I've lost touch with my calendar savant friend, I wonder if he still has that talent.

    2. eco, I wonder if his talent is now dated. . .

  9. Replies
    1. I'm feeling much older.

      I find it interesting that anthropologists seem to think it took a long time for early humans to migrate. Why? We are born wanderers, and it doesn't seem unreasonable that people would travel far so long as there were no oceans or mountains in the way. Especially as dinner was always on the hoof.

      Side note, have you considered/ read about the importance of sweating as a survival mechanism for our slow and clumsy species?

  10. Theresa May. Or She May Not.

    1. jan, indeed.

      Though, even better, it could have been last month ;-).

    2. Corbyn, or Corbout? I have to believe if the Brits finally rid themselves of Tory rulership it was in part the influence of our fearful leader, just as Macron defeated (walloped) Le Pen.

  11. A case for baby birds shows what amber waves of, well, amber can do. The article links to a more scientific article, which uses a lot of big words but has really cool pictures.

    1. Wonderfully sappy research, eco. Thanks.

  12. Replies
    1. Sad to see him follow the final Batsignal.

      I appreciated Adam West even more for his role on Family Guy; I don't know how many actors will engage in mockery and self-deprecation about their most famous role.

  13. New post on "Let's Make This Post go Chiral: From Amino Acids to Zwitterions" is now up.

    Enjoy! Clap those hands!