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The ancient footprints–Dinosaurs

Yesterday I went with some friends to see the Dinosaur footprints at Red Gulch/Alkali.  Located on BLM land outside of Shell, WY,  its about an hour from Cody towards Greybull.  The turnoff is a good dirt road that goes about 35 miles and ends in Hyattville, where there’s an archeological site with petroglyphs. 

Detail of sign at turn off showing map

Today we were just going about 5 miles down the road to some dinosaur tracks, discovered in only 1997 by hikers.

Its a beautiful spot--Badlands against the Big Horns

According to the signage, the discovery changed paleontologists view of the Wyoming landscape 160 million years ago.  Just 15 years ago, it was thought that all of Wyoming was covered by ancient seas in the past.  With the discovery of these footprints, it appears that parts of the landscape had beaches and mudflats.  Of course, 160 million years ago Wyoming was located about the latitude of Cancun, and these dinosaurs were lounging around beaches, eating plants and each other with a nice view of the ocean.

Dinosaur footprint

Sunglasses show scale of footprint

The crazy thing about seeing the footprints was knowing these animals are now gone, long gone, extinct…yet the ghosts of their presence is imprinted in these rocks.

After lunch, a few of us hiked up into the nearby hills.  The whole hillside seemed to made up of fossilized shells.  The shells were in the sandstone cliffs, but also covering the gully and hillsides.  We collected a few shells and some unusual ‘teeth-like’ fossils called Belemnites, ancient squid-like creatures.

Belemnites and Devils toes

As one of my friends’ said, Wyoming is so interesting.  You could be out every day for the rest of your life seeing and doing something new and unique.  This certainly was one of those days.