"Ballroom" Site Photo Gallery

Paluxy Riverbed, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose, TX

All images and text © Glen J. Kuban unless otherwise noted

Gallery Menu

  • Juvenile Sauropod Tracks

  • Large Sauropod Tracks

  • Theropod Tracks

  • Metatarsal Tracks

  • Small Theropod Tracks

  • Squiggle Marks

  • Miscellaneous Wide shots

  • Site Workers

  • Site Visitors

  • Mud-collapsed and Overlapping Tracks

  • Site Maps

  • High Overhead Photos

  • Photomosaics and Satellite Images

  • Ballroom Site Summary

    Located just south of the Blue Hole (park site 1), many tracks at this site have been seen under shallow water for many years, and one section (the "Parlor") was mapped in the 1980's. However, with support of the National Geolgraphic Society, virtually the entire site was systematically cleaned, photographed, and mapped from 2009-2012 by a team of paleontologists, geologists, teachers, students, park personnel, and track enthusiasts. During this work the site was dubbed the "Ballroom" in view of the remarkable variety and density of tracks arrayed on it. These include over 500 dinosaur footprints of variable depth and clarity, probably representing at least three different dinosaur species. The major trackways and features on the site include the following:

    Large and Deep Sauropod Trackway

    This is one of two distinct sauropod ("brontosaur") trails on the site, and one of the most impressive in the Paluxy. The tracks are about three feet long, and are attributed to Sauroposeidon (formerly associated with Pleurocoelus and Paluxysaurus). The trail shows only rear foot impressions, indicating a relatively slow pace, where the front prints were obliterated by the rear footprints. The tracks are very deeply impressed and most lack clear toe marks, but have astoundingly high mud "up-pushes" around their margins, where large quantities of soft mud squished up with each step of the colossal beast. Unlike the parallel, southward progressing trails at the R.T. Bird and Ozark areas, the maker of this trail and the juvenile sauropod trail crossing it were apparently traveling alone (or some distance from the herd) and moving in other directions (north-east for the large sauropod, and south-west for the juvenile). Other, shorter trails of probable sauropod tracks also exist on the site, but are less distinct.

    Juvenile Sauropod Trackway

    This trail features the smallest sauropod tracks known in the park. Each rear print is less than two feet long--about half the size of the largest ones. Whereas adult sauropod prints (when clear) typically show three large, sharp claw marks and two smaller, blunter digit marks, these juvenile sauropod tracks show five clear toe marks all about the same size and shape, suggesting that the digit proportions changed somewhat as these dinosaurs grew. The trail proceeds for about a dozen steps before disappearing under the west bank.

    Theropod Tracks

    Several hundred theropod tracks occur on the site, many in striding trails. Like many other three-toed, sharp-clawed tracks in the Paluxy, most were probably made by Acrocanthosaurus, a two legged, predatory dinosaur that resembled Allosaurus, but had a raised ridge on its back. Most of the tracks are made by individuals only to 1/2 to 3/4 the size of a full grown Acrocanthosaurus (which could get almost as large as a T. rex), and some even smaller tracks at the site (less than a foot long in some cases) were probably made by very young individuals, or perhaps a smaller theropod species. Most of the theropod tracks at the Ballroom show varying degrees of mud collapse or distortion, indicating that the limy mud was quite soft when most of the prints were made, although others are shallower and more distinct, especially on the south end of the site, suggesting that the prints were either made at slightly different times (perhaps days apart), and/or that the sediment consistency varied somewhat from one part of the site to another.

    Metatarsal Tracks

    As on other Paluxy sites such as the Taylor Site and Denio Branch site (site 4), the Ballroom contains several trails of elongate "metatarsal tracks". These were made by dinosaurs that sometimes impressed their metatarsi (soles and heels) as they walked. The reason for this behavior is unclear, but might have occurred when the dinosaurs crouched down while foraging for small prey in the mud or shallow water. This would not be surprising, since they had a veritible "sea food" buffet to enjoy, as indicated by the abundant and diverse fossils found in the layers sourrounding the track beds, including snails, clams, oysters, worm and crustacean burrows, fish teeth, and occassionally remains of other creatures as well. Comparisons of footprint proportions with dinosaur foot bones suggest that many of these metatarsal prints were made by a relatively slender, fleet-footed dinosaur, probably an ornithomimid ("ostrich mimic") or basal coelurosaur.

    Problematic "Squiggles"

    Near the middle of the site is a long series of irregular depressions, which have been informally referred to as "squiggle marks." The creature made these unusual traces is uncertain, but it may have been a large invertebrate creature (some have suggested a large snail). Similar trails are found on the Denio Site (park site 4), and a corner of the Main Site.