University of Arkansas researchers are examining dinosaur tracks found in southwest Arkansas. They made a plaster casting of this track, which is believed to have belonged to a giant carnivore called Acrocanthosaurus atokensis that lived during the Early Cretaceous.University of Arkansas / Russell A. Cothren
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Researchers were studying new fossilized dinosaur tracks Thursday, after they discovered a field of 120 million-year-old footprints in southwestern Arkansas.
The field, which is on private property, covers an area of about two football fields and contains fossilized tracks of several species that have never been previously documented in Arkansas before, including one set from a three-toed dinosaur, measuring two feet (61 centimeters) long by a foot (30 centimeters) wide.
The researchers, from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, believe the three-toed print may belong to Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, one of the largest predators to ever walk the earth.
The site also contains the giant prints of sauropods -- large, long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs such as Pleurocoelus and Paluxysaurus.
"The quality of the tracks and the length of the track ways make this an important site," said Stephen Boss, who led the National Science Foundation-funded project.
Scientists said the discovery will help them learn about the creatures and climate of the Early Cretaceous period, 115 to 120 million years ago.
"Through tracks, we can learn all sorts of things about dinosaur biomechanics and behavior," said Brian Platt of the University of Kansas. "Dinosaur bones can be dragged away by animals or swept out to sea. But we know that about 120 million years ago, dinosaurs walked right through here."