100 million-year-old dinosaur tracks damaged to build boardwalk in Utah

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They didn’t have backhoes in the Cretaceous period.

Dinosaur tracks from 112 million years ago in Utah were damaged in January by construction equipment building a boardwalk at a tourist attraction.

The dino footprints at Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite have been drawing visitors since they were discovered in 2009. But people noticed in January that some of the tracks had been damaged, and there was heavy construction equipment at the site.

The Bureau of Land Management, which operates the site, claimed at the time that no equipment was in the protected area near the dinosaur tracks. However, they had to backtrack on that claim and launch an investigation.

On Wednesday, the BLM shared the report from that investigation, which confirmed that construction equipment had caused irreversible damage to some of the tracks.

The new, metal boardwalk was commissioned because the current, wooden boardwalk is in rough shape, having been warped by the eastern Utah desert sun.

For several years, the local BLM office had a paleontologist on staff. But in 2018, that paleontologist left for a different job and was not replaced. No paleontologists were consulted prior to the construction project, according to the report.

Despite the problems, construction of the new boardwalk is expected to resume later this year. However, the BLM said it would create a new plan and actually talk to a paleontologist or two this time.

In addition to being a popular tourist location, Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite is a significant prehistoric location. It’s one of the 10 most important dinosaur tracksites in the U.S.