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Geological localities

The dinosaurs footprints in Sucre

In the heart of the Bolivian Eastern Cordillera is exposed a paleontological treasure: a fantastic outcrop exposing thousands of fossilized dinosaurs’ footprints. This exceptional outcrop is located in the close suburb of Sucre, a few kilometers from the city centre. In Sucre, we got in contact with Klaus Schutt, the man who discovered this site, 16 years ago. Klaus explained that he was visiting a limestone quarry with some of his friends when he saw strange features at the surface of the rock that were very similar to the dinosaurs’ footprints discovered in the Toro Toro National Park, also in Bolivia. He discovered what is one of the most important dinosaurs’ footprints locality in the world!

Klaus Schutt, Sucre

Klaus offered us to go to the quarry. Unfortunately, the outcrop cannot be visited now, but the local touristic authorities built an attraction park: the Cretaceous Park. The entrance is dominated by a huge dinosaur head, and many small wooden plates list the main geological events of the Earth history. “The legends of this chronology has been designed by paleontologists with very technical words. This is the example of what should not be done for popularizing science: this is so complicated and complex that most visitors, who still believe that the Earth was made in 6 days, don’t understand a word of it!”.

The welcoming entrance of Cretaceous Park

A non-understandable legend of the Earth History

The outcrop is a 1.5 km long cliff. This cliff corresponds to the upper surface of a layer of sediment, on top of which numerous marks can be observed, each mark being a footprint. Klaus explained us that these footprints are of Cretaceous age (between 145 and 65 million years ago). 5055 individual footprints have been described, and more than 100 species have been indentified.

Cliff with dinosaurs' footprints

Cliff with dinosaurs' footprints

Cliff with dinosaurs' footprints

The study of these footprints provided much more information on the social behavior of dinosaurs than the study of their remnants. For example, it is possible to observe two lines of big footprints, with small footprints between them (see picture below). This shows that some baby dinosaurs were growing with their parents, which protected their offsprings.

Cliff with dinosaurs' footprints

At that time, the Andes Mountains have not started rising. Instead, this region was almost at sea level, at the bottom a flat shallow sea that was regularly dried. During the dry events, dinosaurs were free to walk in the middle of the bay, leaving footprints in the mud. Later, floods filled the entire bay and deposited sediments, such as clay and sand. These deposits buried the footprints, which were preserved underground. In the recent geological times, the Andes Mountains formed, deforming and tilting the ancient sediments, which were brought to the surface by erosion. This is how buried rocks can be exhumed, and observed at the surface.

Reconstruction of dinosaur in Cretaceous Park

Reconstruction of dinosaur in Cretaceous Park

We listened to Klaus while we were walking in the Cretaceous Park amongst reconstructions of dinosaurs. We had the feeling of walking in a wild forest, 100 million years ago.

 

 

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