University of Texas Launches Campaign to Save Dinosaur Tracks
[2-16-12] Since 1941, the University of Texas has been home to a large set of footprints of sauropod and theropod dinosaurs made 112 million years ago near the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. The Glen Rose Dinosaur Tracks are currently displayed in a small building outside of the Texas Memorial Museum; however, scientists have recently discovered that the tracks have begun to deteriorate due to moisture-related problems in their current home.
“Several years ago, we found surface deterioration of the stone,” said Susan Romberg, Director of External Affairs in the College of Natural Sciences. “A full assessment was needed to determine the extent of the damage and the cause of the deterioration.”
In 2008, funding was obtained from UT's College of Natural Sciences in order to complete the assessment, Romberg said. The money also funded a full plan of operations for preservation of the tracks, which was developed by Conservation Solutions, Inc. The company recommendations included removing the stone tracks from their present location, treating the stone to preserve it, reassembling and mounting of the stone on a modular support system, and relocating the tracks to an exhibit gallery inside the environmentally safe, climate-controlled Texas Memorial Museum.
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, the site where these tracks originated from, has long been viewed as the site of some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. This particular set tells paleontologists much about the details of the ancient creatures, including their size, weight, and the way they moved; therefore it is regarded as an important key to the study of the species.
Paleontologists have estimated that the sauropod, one of the dinosaurs who made these tracks, was 60 feet long and weighed 20 tons. This sauropod’s tracks have become the standard against which all tracks similar in nature are compared.
The other featured dinosaur is the theropod, estimated to have been smaller at a length of about 30 feet. Scientists think that due to the proximity of the tracks, it is possible that the theropod, a carnivorous creature, was following or stalking the sauropod.
A campaign has begun called “Save the Dinosaur Tracks” in order to raise the funds to move the tracks into a new display inside the Texas Memorial Museum. The goal of creating a new display for the tracks is not only to keep them better preserved, but also to create a better educational environment for people to be able to learn about the tracks and about the dinosaurs that are such an important part of Texas history and science in general.
“We are seeking $1,000,000 in funding,” Romberg said. “This would be a wonderful sponsorship for a corporate donor to fund the preservation and exhibition of a unique piece of Texas' natural history, with outstanding K-12 educational outreach opportunities that will benefit present and future generations.
Romberg and the College of Natural Sciences are seeking large donations from corporations, foundations, and major donors in order to preserve the tracts. They are also planning grassroots activities such as a t-shirt design contest for children and barbeque sales on UT football game days.
For more information on the tracks and the campaign to save them, visit savethedinosaurtracks.org.