When workers were cleaning up about 6 inches of mud and other debris caused by flooding at Colorado’s Picket Wire Canyonlands in the Comanche National Grassland, they discovered between 100 and 150 dinosaur footprints. Bruce Schumacher, who is a paleontologist with the U.S. Forest Service, stated that the round footprints were left behind by dinosaurs that belonged to the same family of Brontosaurus.
Brontosaurus was a type of sauropod dinosaur that lived between 156.3 and 146.8 million years ago during the late part of Jurassic Period. These herbivores could grow as large as 72 feet in length (22 meters) and weighed as much as 17 tons. They were believed to have lived as long as 100 years and perhaps even longer.
These newly discovered footprints will be added to the approximately 2,000 prints already discovered at the location. And there could possibly be even more as Schumacher explained that they “could continue for a long, long time.” “But we’ve kind of reached a point where we’ve got a good amount exposed. At least I feel like we’re at a place to continue to manage it as it is.”
All of the dinosaur tracks have been discovered in more than 130 different trackways in about a quarter of a mile of bedrock that is located along the banks of the Purgatoire River.
During the Jurassic Period, the southeastern part of Colorado was full of forests with ground ferns, tree ferns, sequoia trees, and pine trees, along with tropical climate and a massive shallow lake where the Purgatoire River Valley is now located. Allosaurus and Apatosaurus dinosaurs often visited the shoreline where they left their tracks. In fact, the Comanche National Grassland has the biggest dinosaur track site in all of North America.
A picture of the newly discovered dinosaur footprints can be seen here.
In addition to the massive amount of dinosaur footprints, rock art created by the Native Americans can also be found at the location on the canyon walls. These images, which are between 375 and 4,500 years old, include elk, deer, abstract designs, and humans.
The historic Rourke Ranch is another favorite area for visitors to explore. Built in 1871, it was used by Eugene and Mary Rourke who used it as a horse and cattle ranch. It was in use for three generations until being sold in 1971. Known as one of the most successful ranches in the southwest, it started out with 40 acres and grew to more than 50,000 acres.