Fossil find expands evidence from Cretaceous period

On a summer’s day in 2012, fossil expert Ray Stanford was dropping off his wife Sheila, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA, when he stumbled across an odd feature stamped into exposed rock on a hillside behind a building.

After a closer examination, he found a 12-inch-wide footprint belonging to a nodosaur, a plant-eating dinosaur that once roamed the Earth during the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous period.

He alerted staff members and the slab of rock measuring eight feet by three feet (2.43 meters by 0.91 meters) was found to be imprinted with nearly 70 tracks from mammals and dinosaurs.

Now he has published a paper in Nature showing the tracks were made between 145 million and 66 million years ago.

Martin Lockley, co-author of the paper published in Scientific Reports and a paleontologist at the University of Colorado, Denver, said it is “the mother lode of Cretaceous mammal tracks”.

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