Dinosaur Ridge in Jefferson County is going high-tech trying to preserve footprints where dinosaurs once roamed.
Drones are being used to map the footprints to study how to stop the erosion. Guides offered perspective on the period visitors of the area are learning about.
“These tracks were made by living animals. This is a snapshot in time from 100 million years ago,” one said.
The existence of the footprints wasn’t known until fairly recently, when you consider the span of time.
Paleontologist Paul Murphy noted, “as soon as these rocks were uncovered in 1937 during the construction of the Alameda Parkway, then immediately they started to degrade.”
It’s a place to educate and try to preserve the very distant past.
Adults and children gathered for a tour were told the weather is to blame for the erosion.
“This year, we have had abundant rain and snow — sleet actually — and hail, so what they do is they fade away,” a guide told visitors.
Now drones are being deployed to figure out how best to protect those footprints.
“So now what we are doing is using technology, which gets better and better every year, to create super high definition images,” Murphy added.
The loss of the footprints can’t entirely be blamed on nature. Murphy said man has played a role in the past too.
“You can still see, you have an image of people getting out here with a hammer and chisel, trying to remove tracks from the surface and take them home,” Murphy said.
With help from the drones, they plan to create a three-dimensional map of the dinosaur prints.
The image will be used to compare the current state of erosion with maps over the next few years to determine how to save the footprints from extinction. It’s a three-year project by Jefferson County Open Space and Friends of Dinosaur Ridge.
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