NASA this week revealed that a dinosaur footprint has been found at the Goddard Space Flight Center campus in Maryland. Ray Stanford, a well-known amateur dinosaur footprint-hunter in the Maryland area found the footprint and reported it to Goddard's facility managment last week.
“This was a large, armored dinosaur,” Stanford said. “Think of it as a four-footed tank. It was quite heavy, there’s a quite a ridge or push-up here... Subsequently the sand was bound together by iron-oxide or hematite, so it gave us a nice preservation, almost like concrete.”
Stanford states that the dinosaur that left the track was a nodosaur, a squat, armored plant-eating dinosaur.
Stanford was fastidious in confirming that the find was a dinosaur print, checking with a paleontologist at Johns Hopkins University before alerting NASA. He also had the U.S. Geological Survey date the find using the same sedimentary rock as the fossil. The fossil is approximately 110 to 112 million years old, meaning the print came from the Cretaceous Period.
"The most thrilling thing about finding this one - I've found other nodasaur tracks - but what really threw me about this one [is that] I found it at Goddard Space Flight Center, and I love the paradox," said Stanford. "Space scientists may walk along here, and they’re walking exactly where this big, bungling heavy armored dinosaur walked, maybe 110 to 112-million years ago."
Stanford encouraged others to look down and spot dinosaur tracks themselves to prevent them from being destroyed. He says people who find dinosaur footprints should notify someone at a museum or university that could identify the worth of a fossil and help preserve it.
NASA officials stated they will consult Maryland officials and paleontologists to determine how the find will be preserved. Watch an excited Stanford show off the nodasaur track in the video below,:
(Photo courtesy NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth)