At least 10 of the larger, more visible dinosaur footprints have been damaged in the past six months
Hundreds of prehistoric dinosaur tracks imprinted in sandstone at Utah state park are in deep trouble. Park officials say that visitors are mistaking precious dinosaur tracks with ordinary pieces of rocks and throwing them into a nearby lake, causing substantial damage to historic site. At least 10 large footprints ranged from 3 to 17 inches have been lost in the past six months.
“The dinosaur track site is deteriorating due to human impact. There has been a substantial impact to the track site from individuals throwing rocks (most containing dinosaur tracks) into the water over the past 6 months,” said Red Fleet State Park officials. “People come to our park from all over the country and world to see this amazing feature. As it is not illegal to throw rocks into the water. It is illegal to displace these rocks which contain tracks. Many tracks are very distinguishable to the lay person but many are not. This is why it is so important to not disturb any rocks at the dinosaur track-way.”
Park workers are trying to halt the destruction of the site for now but they suggest that these tracks are still in jeopardy. Recently, they caught a teenager who was throwing slabs of stones into the reservoir. One of the slabs was containing two toe imprints from a partial dinosaur track. They were able to save that one but he has already thrown multiple tracks into the water.
“It’s become quite a big problem,” said park spokesman Devan Chavez. “They’re just looking to throw rocks off the side. What they don’t realize is these rocks they’re picking up, they’re covered in dinosaur tracks.”
The tracks belong to dilophosaurus, a theropod dinosaur which lived approximately 193 million years ago during the early Jurassic Period. The area was once a wet muddy ground in which dilophosaurus ambushed other dinosaurs while they were resting or drinking from the swamp. Although the footprints left by dilophosaurus are not exactly fossils, they are still valuable. To protect them, park management is putting up more signs and asking tourists not to touch the sandstone. The park is also planning to send a team of divers to recover slabs thrown in the water.