The Dinosaur Barn Dance, 200 Million Years Later

You have to look for this place, it's about 5 miles east of Tuba City on highway 160, turn to the north and go less than a quarter of a mile and you'll probably run into Morris, a Navajo man who's a sort of unofficial guide to the dinosaur tracks. Tip this guy a couple of bucks or so and he'll show you all the good stuff here at what I like to call the Dinosaur barn dance. Dinosaur tracks! Everywhere!

Mike Morales is a paleontologist. "Well, this footprint is about almost a foot in maximum length from the tip of the middle toe to the back of the heel here. And shows really clearly claw impressions at the end of each of the three toes.

"At the time these tracks were deposited this was probably a relatively flat area locally. It was probably somewhat wetter than it is now, there were nearby streams and rivers. There was probably a rain and water had collected in a nearby depression. Animals, both dinosaurs and meat eaters, would have come down to drink water and they walked on the mud and left their footprints in the mud."

In probably less than a few days span, a micro-blink across the eye of time, strange creatures passed this way. And 200 million years went bye.

"And the animal was probably about 6 or 6 1/2 feet high at the hip socket. Then of course there would have been backbone and some neck above that so it would have been much bigger than an average man."

And probably not a very even-tempered kind of creature, I ask?

"No, probably rather aggressive. You've seen Hollywood productions of Tyrannosaurus ripping up things in these dinosaur movies and they probably acted a lot like that."

Nearby they've found skeletal remains of the kind of fellow who might have made these tracks. He's called Dilophysaurus.

Hard to imagine tracks still here, left by a beast whose species lasted 140 million years...then just disappeared. Tracks...left in the sands of time.



Again, you have to look for this place. It is in Northern Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, about 80 miles north of Flagstaff. Go north from Flag on 89 for 60 miles, then turn east onto 160, heading for Tuba City. It's about 5 miles east of Tuba City. There is a small sign on a ragged piece of plywood( last time I was there). Turn to the north and go less than a quarter of a mile. There is one of those ubiquitous shacks Navajos set up to sell jewelry on the west side of the road, and the tracks are behind it. Very early in the morning or late in the afternoon is best for pictures.

Be aware you are on the Navajo Reservation here and they march to a different beat. You don't HAVE to tip Morris, or whoever is there, to show you around, but things will go a lot smoother if you do.

Sometimes, younger Navajos will be there and may get aggressive about arguing White/Indian issues. The Little Big Horn, the Long Walk and every injustice done to Indians since the beginning of time sometimes become the fault of whatever white man happens to be standing around. Get in your car and drive away.

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