Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

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John Hollenhorst reportingA team at Lake Powell is organizing an extraordinary rescue effort for what one scientist calls an "amazing" discovery.

They've found thousands of dinosaur footprints submerged for years under the lake.

Scientists have known about dinosaur prints in the vicinity of Lake Powell for many years. Now, suddenly they have lots more. There's a treasure trove of new tracks to study, largely because of an amateur fossil hunter.

Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

But science is in a race against the spring runoff.

Andre Delgalvis explores Lake Powell professionally as a photographer. He started noticing ancient tracks a couple of years ago.

Andre Delgalvis, Landscape Photographer:: "I couldn't believe how many tracks I was finding."

Tracks from crocodiles and dinosaurs, many so well preserved their claws are visible.

Andre Delgalvis, Landscape Photographer: "And you can actually see the digits, the knuckles in these "

Thousands of tracks in dozens of locations, exposed by drought on Lake Powell's receding shoreline.

Andre Delgalvis, Landscape Photographer: "Tracks are appearing that possibly no one's ever seen before."

Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

When Delgalvis brought in a professional scientist, he too was excited.

Prof. Martin Lockley, University of Colorado-Denver: "Yes, we've definitely found some new stuff here."

Here, highlighting the tracks with loose red dirt, Professor Martin Lockley identifies two tracks and a drag mark made by a dinosaur tail.

Nearby is evidence a big meat-eater walked the desert 200 million years ago.

It was likely dilophosaurus, pictured on Lockley's T-shirt.

Prof. Martin Lockley, University of Colorado-Denver: "It was probably 5, 6 feet at the hip and was 15, 18 feet long."

Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

Lockley says many of the tracks have actually been enhanced by being underwater.

Prof. Martin Lockley, University of Colorado-Denver: "It's brought out the subtle relief, if you like, more clearly. "

They're now scrambling to document the tracks as quickly as they can. Photographing, measuring, making molds, even taking tracks back to civilization if they're on rocks small enough to carry out.

Prof. Martin Lockley, University of Colorado-Denver: "There's so many tracks, so little time."

It's an urgent situation right now because Lake Powell is rising dramatically, going up about six inches a day. It won't be long before this spot right here will be deep underwater.

The team has a park service permit to carry out whatever they can. But many footprints are on big slabs, so they need outside help.

Andre Delgalvis, Landscape Photographer: "Money and resources. And by resources I mean heavy equipment and people who know how to operate heavy equipment."

Team Discovers Thousands of Dinosaur Prints

By mid-summer Lake Powell will be 40 to 50 feet higher.

Andre Delgalvis, Landscape Photographer: "I don't think that in our lifetime we're ever going to see it this low again."

Major new discoveries are still being made, the latest just this morning. Researchers hope to create a museum at Bullfrog to display many of the tracks.

If you want to get involved, you can contact the team by e-mail through a link on our website.

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