A huge wall at Cal Orcko in southern Bolivia reveals more than 5,000 dinosaur footsteps


Situated near the city of Sucre, the huge Cal Orck’o archaeological site is located on a cliff just 5kms from the city center. It has a slope of 73 degrees, is 80 meters (260 ft) high and 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) long. Discovered on the grounds of the local cement company (Sucre’s Fabrica Nacional de Cemento SA/Fancesa), it´s the largest concentration of dinosaur tracks in the world. The huge vertical wall of rock with thousands of dinosaur footprints was first discovered by miners in 1985 while mining away the sedimentary layers for use in the production of concrete, but it was only between 1994 and 1998 that the site’s importance was fully realized.

Four years later, a scientific team led by Christian Meyer, a Swiss paleontologist of the Natural History Museum in Basel, investigated the wall. According to him, the discovery marks an enormous contribution to humanity and science, revealing data heretofore unknown and “documenting the high diversity of dinosaurs better than any other site in the world.” The dinosaur tracks of the Cal Orck’o paleontological bed date from 68 million years ago and there are more than 5,000 footprints from 293 species of dinosaurs, all made during the Maastrichtian age of the Cretaceous period in the Mesozoic era, the time in which the majority of these enormous beasts lived.

Sauropodomorpha footprints footprints in Cal Orcko. Photo Credit
Sauropodomorpha footprints in Cal Orcko (which means “lime Hill” in the local Quechua language). 

The location used to be the shore of a former lake, which, as an essential water sauce, attracted a large number of both herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs. In 2010, a section of the wall broke off, destroying some of the tracks but revealing another layer underneath. It was later discovered that there are at least seven layers of footprints within the dinosaur wall and it is amazing that almost all of the prints are so well preserved that scientists can tell exactly what species they were made by.

The footprints remained covered until the 1990s, when Fancesa company mined away the sedimentary layers for use in the production of concrete. Photo Credit
The footprints remained covered until the 1990s when Fancesa company mined away the sedimentary layers for use in the production of concrete. The discovery of this wall is a huge contribution to the history and the science. It reveals unknown information about the period of 66 million years agoAuthor: Jerry Daykin – CC-BY 2.0

Some of the dinosaurs whose tracks have been found are the Ankylosaurus, a herbivore with an armored exterior, the Titanosaur, a plant-eating dinosaur that once weighed more than 100 tons, and Carnotaurus, a predatory animal with small arms and legs. One trackway of a theropod dinosaur can be followed for more than 550 m which make it the longest ever recorded in the world.

Most impressive of these is the world-record setting 347-meter trail left by a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex known as “Johnny Walker”. Photo Credit
Analysis of the tracks showed that Titanosaurus Ankylosaurus, and Carnotaurus have left their tracks here. Also traces of carnivorous Theropods have been found. Most impressive of these is the world-record setting 347-meter trail left by a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex known as “Johnny Walker”. Author: Mhwater – CC BY-SA 2.0 

Perhaps, the most spectacular set of tracks is 347 meters long, the longest dinosaur trackway ever found, and was made by a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex nicknamed “Johnny Walker” by researchers. The footprints have been turned into a major tourist attraction and there are guided tours available that will take tourists within a few meters of the wall.

 A dinosaur-themed park, known as Cretaceous Park, was also created which includes a museum dedicated to the findings where a variety of dinosaur exhibits showcase a large collection of skeletons and life-size dinosaur sculptures. Among those is one of the world’s largest sculptures: a 36×18 meter replica of Titanosaurus. The site is now considered extremely important to the world of paleontology, with secrets still being uncovered to this day.
The dinosaur tracks date from 68 million years ago. Photo Credit
The dinosaur tracks date from 68 million years ago. One of Bolivia’s most unique attractions. drawing 120,000 visitors each year.Author: Mhwater – CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2009, Bolivia attempted to have Cal Orcko designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but after Francesa had opposed the proposition, the effort was abandoned.

However, as of 2015, the site is in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site which will provide findings to help preserve the dinosaur tracks.

Source: http://www.thevintagenews.com

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