Alaska's 'Coliseum': Dinosaur Tracks from 70 Million Years Ago

Fareeha Arshad

Researchers recently uncovered a remarkable site in Denali National Park, Alaska, called the 'Coliseum.' This extensive and multi-layered rock formation contains dinosaur tracks dating back approximately 70 million years. The site was discovered in 2010 and has become a treasure trove of dinosaur footprints.

The 'Coliseum' boasts evidence of various dinosaur types and species, including ornithopods, ceratopsids, and theropods, suggesting it was once a bustling watering hole on a large floodplain. The site's tracks are spread across its flat surfaces, spanning an area of 7,500 square meters, roughly the size of a soccer pitch, and standing as tall as a 20-story building.

What sets this discovery apart is its layered nature, providing a chronological sequence of tracks unparalleled in Denali. These tracks formed through different processes, such as impressions made in soft mud that later solidified and others preserved by sediment filling.

Aside from the dinosaur tracks, the 'Coliseum' site also contains fossilised plants, pollen grains, freshwater shellfish, and invertebrate traces, making it the largest known site in Alaska.

During the Late Cretaceous period, the region was teeming with life, featuring ponds, lakes, and a warmer climate resembling the Pacific Northwest, with coniferous and deciduous forests. Researchers view such sites as windows into the past, offering insights into the ancient ecosystem.

The discovery hints at a diverse prehistoric environment, with massive tyrannosaurs, raptors, flying reptiles, and various bird species coexisting. These findings provide a glimpse into the area's rich natural history and the need for further exploration in Denali National Park to unveil more secrets from the distant past.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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