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Yellow Brick Road Dinosaur Tracksite in Wyoming
The Yellow Brick Road Dinosaur Tracksite in the Big Horn Basin is as large
as any site previously found in Wyoming, according to findings of a
University of Wyoming student research project.
An article about the tracksite, co-written by Thomas Adams of Shelby,
Iowa, a geology/geophysics and zoology/physiology senior, and Brent
Breithaupt, UW Geological Museum director, was published by the Wyoming
State Geological Survey in Wyoming Geo-Notes No. 76, April 2003. It is the
first time an article written by an undergraduate geology student was
published in the journal, Breithaupt says.
The project to locate and study Middle Jurassic dinosaur tracks began in
2001. The Yellow Brick Road Dinosaur Tracksite may be even more extensive
than the renowned Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite located only a couple of
miles away, Adams and Breithaupt report. The Red Gulch Tracksite, with
more than 1,000 tracks, is one of the largest in Wyoming and one of the
most extensively studied dinosaur tracksites in the world.
"Our work shows that estimations on dinosaur sizes, speeds and activity
patterns can be determined from the fossil record," Adams and Breithaupt
state in the article.
Any evidence of dinosaur activity from 165 million years ago is
significant in that there are only a few dinosaur fossil records from the
time. A large, shallow inland sea (called the Sundance Sea) covered much
of North America at the time, including parts of Wyoming.
"Studies of Middle Jurassic dinosaurs tracks in the Big Horn Basin have
increased our understanding of a population of carnivorous dinosaurs on
the shores of the Sundance Sea," Adams says.
UW students and volunteers have studied thousands of tracks at the site,
all made by two-legged, three-toed meat-eating dinosaurs. Adams conducted
detailed measurements of hundreds of tracks, and documented the site using
aerial photographs taken from a blimp plus satellite imagery. More study
results will be published in a future issue of Wyoming Geo-notes.