Animal tracks discovered within the Grand Canyon are the oldest ever, paleontologists say

Grand Canyon animal tracks fossil

The 313-million-year-old animal tracks are the oldest in existence.


Fossilized footprints found in Grand Canyon Nationwide Park had been confirmed by paleontologists on Friday to be the oldest recorded tracks of their type.

The tracks had been first discovered inside a boulder by Norwegian geology professor Allan Krill and his college students in 2016, however now researchers have discovered that they are the oldest in existence — round 313 million years outdated, give or take half one million years. 

“These are by far the oldest vertebrate tracks in Grand Canyon, which is understood for its considerable fossil tracks,” mentioned Stephen Rowland, a paleontologist on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas. “They’re among the many oldest tracks on Earth of shelled-egg-laying animals, corresponding to reptiles.

They’re additionally the earliest proof of vertebrates strolling on sand dunes.

The tracks present two animals strolling in a “lateral sequence stroll” — that means the 2 legs on all sides transfer in succession, with the rear leg first and the entrance leg following (the identical approach cats and canine stroll).

“[The] tracks doc the usage of this gait very early within the historical past of vertebrate animals. We beforehand had no details about that,” Rowland mentioned.

The analysis was revealed within the PLoS ONE journal.

Fossil track walking gait

The tracks present two animals strolling in a lateral-sequence stroll alongside a sand dune.


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