Sure, when you’re expanding a huge quarry, you’re going to expect some surprises hidden in the mass of rocks. Maybe some bird bones, a lost shoe or some relic of past construction work. What you’re probably not expecting to find, however, is over 5,000 dinosaur footprint embedded in the stone.But that’s just what workers found in a cement plant in Sucre, Bolivia. Those on site uncovered a 4,000 foot long and 262 foot high wall of limestone with with the unreal footprints set inside; in fact, it’s now known as the site of the largest concentration of dinosaur tracks in the entire world.
Cal Orcko, as the quarry site is called, used to be the shore of a lake, so many centuries ago during the Cretaceous period. It’s this coveted water source that brought both herbaceous and carnivorous dinosaurs to the area for nourishment.
During the warmer months, the earth surrounding the lake would get damp and pliable; when the animals stepped to the shoreline to drink from the lake, they’d sink into the ground and leave their footprints behind which became solid during long periods of drought. During yet another period of wet weather, the dried footprints got sealed underneath the latest, wet layer. A huge tectonic movement shifted the limestone slab to the upright position it is in today.
Over 460 individual trails were made during this process, the first of which were discovered by miners in 1985. It wasn’t until 1994, however, that the site’s archeological importance was solidified (pun intended) when Swiss paleontologist Christian Meyer and his team certified the bed as legitimate.
Meyer is quoted as saying that the site documents “the high diversity of dinosaurs better than any other site in the world,” and stresses the importance the highly preserved footprints have on paleontology and the understanding of the history of the earth in general.
It comes as no surprise that Meyer’s subsequent study of the prints reveals much more than just the shape of the dino’s feet. In some places, you can see tiny baby feet between two lines of bigger footprints, showing that parents would protect their offspring by having them walk underneath them, shielding the young with their size.
Of course, the most popular set of footprints belongs to a baby Tyrannosaurs Rex, whom researchers have dubbed “Johnny Walker” and whose 1,128 long set of footprints delight all visitors to the sit.
To keep the original site and its incredible findings safe while simultaneously showing it off, a Cretaceous Park opened in 2006 which provides tourists the chance to view exact replicas of the dinosaurs who also visited the site, along with a museum and a viewing platform to see the rock face. [sources: Amusing Planet]