A type of dinosaur highway, complete with hundreds of ancient dinosaur footprints has been discovered in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, it was revealed this weekend. The prints are likely more than 100 million years old,
Hundreds of prints from extinct carnivores and herbivores are pressed into the flat, rocky surface of an area the size of three football fields. The amount of prints and size of the area indicate the site was a major dinosaur thoroughfare.
Many of the three-toed prints at the site — located near Williston Lake about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver — closely resemble the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball logo.
"From what I saw there is at least a score or more of trackways, so 20-plus trackways of different animals," said paleontologist Rich McCrea.
"We're looking at a few hundred foot prints that were exposed when I visited the site. If it keeps up that density and we are able to peel back a bit of the surface and expand it by another 1,000 square metres we're likely to find there are thousands of foot prints."
The size and high quality of the finding mean it has potential to be a world-class tourism site.
McCrea is curator of the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. He thinks the dinosaur path has major potential as a world-class scientific and tourism site, but said he's concerned the local government's approach to protecting and promoting dinosaur zones is a bit prehistoric.
"It would be one of the top sites, unquestionably," said McCrea, who's part of a local crowdfunding campaign trying to raise $190,000 to research and promote the site. "It already looks like it's going to be one of the biggest sites in Canada. That also means one of the biggest sites in the world." Canada is known to have some of the most extensive collections of dinosaur fossils in the world.
He said his visits to the site, a closely guarded secret to avoid looters, indicate the area was a major travel zone for the allosaurus, a Jurassic Park look-alike. The dinosaur was a 25 foot log, two-legged predator with a huge head and rows of teeth. Friendly it was not.
McCrea said the area also contains many tracks made by the ankylosaurus, a four-legged, 30 foot long herbivore, that weighed almost 15,000 pounds and was known for its distinctive armour-plated head and long, club-like tail.
It is estimated the tracks found to date are between 115 million and 117 million years old.
"This was still in the dinosaurs' heyday," said McCrea. "It's kind of like the middle age of dinosaurs."