|Theropod dinosaur tracks at the Blue Hole, Dinosaur Valley State Park. The track at right was uncovered in 2004|
2010 Note: Since this guide was written in 2005, the sauropod dinosaur believed to have left the large four-footed tracks in the Paluxy has been revaluated to be a new genus called Paluxysaurus, rather than Pleurocoelus.
Meeting Time and Place: Saturday, August 6, 2005, 8:30 a.m. at entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park, Park Rd 59, off Rt 67 a few miles west of Glen Rose. The park phone number is 254-897-4588.
UPDATE Thurs. 7-5-05. Glen Rose got a little rain yesterday, but the river did not rise much. Unless a lot more rain comes, the field trip is still a "go." I've put together a site-by-site guide for the first several "STOPS" of the trip, which you can access at http://paleo.cc/paluxy/gr-stops.htm.
Please email or call me if you plan to attend. Participants are encouraged to drive to Glen Rose or Granbury on Friday and stay overnight, so we can get an early start on Saturday. Please make your hotel reservations early (rooms fill up fast this time of year). I will drive up Friday morning to check site conditions and sweep off some of the tracks. Please let me know if you can also drive up early Friday and help. For those who cannot drive up Friday at all, you can still make the second half of the field trip by meeting us at the park entrance around 2:00 pm on Saturday (or whatever time we agree to meet)--after the rest of us take a lunch break. Speaking of which, you are welcome to either bring a lunch or go into town when we break around 12:30. For those who do go into town there are several fast food places along Rt 67 in Glen Rose, as well as some nice sit down places in town. I especially recommend Anderson's on the Square (all the food is home made and delicious), and the BBQ place across the street from the Best Western on Rt 67. While in town, you may want to take a few moments to check out the dinosaur track mounted in the band stand in the square (it was cut out of the Paluxy and placed there around 1925), and the little Somervell County Museum on the north side of the square which displays a variety of local artifacts, fossils, and historic objects. For a good meal Saturday evening you may want to consider Pastafina, an Italian restaurant with excellent food and reasonable prices, located just south of Granbury on 144.
|Trail of sauropod tracks, Main Site, Dinosaur Valley State Park.|
Accommodations There are three popular motels in Glen Rose (listed below), as well as several Bed and Breakfasts and lodges (which are usually more expensive). Camping is also available in the State Park. If you do not find a place to stay in Glen Rose, there are many other accommodations in Granbury, a somewhat larger town about 15 miles north.
Glen Rose Inn and Suites (Formerly Glen Rose Motor Inn)
300 Big Bend Trail (Hwy. 67 & Rt 56) Phone 254-897-2940 or 800-577-2540
Best Western Inn and Suites 800-280-2055 or 254-897-4818
America's Best Value Inn and Suites (opened 2005) 1614 NE Big Bend Trail (Rt 67), Phone 254-897-2111
All three of the above motels are located on Rt 67, the main road that runs through the north side of Glen Rose. For Bed & Breakfasts and other accommodations, visit: www.glenrosetexas.net/
What to bring: Camera, sunscreen, hat, plenty of drinking water, old sneakers or wading shoes. In short, prepare for hot weather and wet feet. A broom (especially a push broom) or wisk brush will come in handy on some sites for cleaning the tracks (except for the Main Site, which is normally kept clean by park personnel, and whose roped off areas may not be entered by visitors). Children are welcome on this trip, although very young ones may have difficulty scaling the river embankments at a couple of the sites, or dealing with the mud and shallow water along the way. (There are other things to do if parents wish to skip those sites). You may want to bring your fishing and/or swimming gear; both are avaialable at the "Blue Hole," an unusually deep spot in the river whose rocky rim contains many deep dinosaur tracks of several sizes.
Field Trip Summary: We will visit several dinosaur track sites, most of which are in the Paluxy Riverbed, which runs through Dinosaur Valley State Park, a few miles west of Glen Rose, Texas. Assuming the river conditions cooperate, we will view some of the best preserved tracks in the area, including those of theropods (two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs), sauropods (four-legged, long necked dinosaurs), plus a variety of tracks not often seen by most visitors, including a rare ornithopod trackway, some probably tail marks, a foot slide, infilled tracks with distinct colorations, and forms of metatarsal tracks once mistaken for "human" prints. While in the park you may want to stop at the gift shop, which sells snacks, soft drinks, and a wide variety of fossil and dinosaur related souveneers, clothing, and literature. Near the gift shop are large statues of a T. rex and Apatosaurus , which were brought in from one of the world's fairs shortly after the park opened. They are not the dinosaurs that made the tracks, but are similar in general appearance, and serve as good attention getters and fun backdrops for photos.
Geology and Paleontology Summary The dinosaur tracks near Glen Rose occur near the lower part of the Glen Rose Limestone formation (Aptian/Albian), approx. 110 million years old. The tracks were made on a vast mud flat, exposed during tidal fluctuations along the margin of a large shallow sea, representing the ancient Gulf of Mexico. After the dinosaurs left their prints in the soft, limy mud, additional layers of sediment buried the and protected the track beds. The track layers gradually turned to limestone and remained buried for millions of years, until reexposed again in modern times by the erosive action of the Paluxy River, and/or human excavators. No one knows for sure why the dinosaurs walked through the area. Most of the sauropods were traveling in herds, and may have been on a migration. The theropods may have been hunting the sauropods, or feeding on a variety of other large and small creatures, including fish and shellfish, which are often found as fossils between the track beds. The theropod tracks were probably left by the carnosaur Acrocanthosaurus, whose bones have been found nearby, and in other lower Cretaceous rocks. Acrocanthosaurus somewhat resembled a Tyrannosaurus rex, but was somewhat smaller, with a raised ridge along its back. The sauropod tracks may have been left by Pleurocoelus, a brachiosaur whose bones have also been found in lower Cretaceous rocks south of Glen Rose. The few ornithopod tracks in the area are not yet well associated with any particular genus or species, but were probably made by one of the hadrosaurs or "duck-billed" dinosaurs.
|Acrocanthosaurus depicted with Astrodon, a sauropod similar to the one that made the Glen Rose tracks. Painting by Pat O'Brian.|
Other things to Do in Glen Rose For those who can stay late on Saturday or remain through Sunday, there are plenty of other things to see and do around Glen Rose, including Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch a few miles south of town, antique shops on the town square, fishing and swimming in Dinosaur Valley State Park, and fossil collecting along the roadcuts south of Glen Rose (especially those just south of Walnut Springs on Rt 144), or other cuts north of Granbury, along Rt. 377. For a summary of the type of fossils you can find at these exposures, visit "Glen Rose Fossils" at http://paleo.cc/paluxy/gr-fossils.htm . There is no official permission to collect at these roadcuts, but I have not experienced problems doing so in the past, other than my wife being stung by a scorpion (be sure to watch for traffic and park well off the road of course). Collecting in the state park is strictly prohibited. I understand there are free "Barrel Races" on the 5th and 6th at the Expo Center on Rt. 67 next to the Best Western Inn. You may be tempted to visit Carl Baugh's "Creation Evidence Museum" along Rt 205 about a mile south of the park; however, be aware that many of the items in the museum (such as alleged human and cat prints, a supposed Cretaceous "hammer", a "fossilized human finger," etc) have been shown to be misidentified or dubious at best. For more information see some of the articles at http://paleo.cc/paluxy. Another small but legitimate museum is the Somervell County Museum, mentioned earlier. Besides the historical displays inside, there is a dinosaur track in the patio area outside, which was found during construction of the Comanche Peak nuclear plant (located between Glen Rose and Granbury). There are two other tracks from the nuclear construction site displayed in the area: one is near the entrance to the Expo Center on Rt. 67; another is at the entrance to the nuclear plant.
In Granbury one can fish, swim, or enjoy a paddleboat ride on Lake Granbury, take a horse and buggy ride around the town historic district, or visit the shops, galleries, and restaurants around the town square.
For more information, please visit the following links: