Sunday, 6 November 2016

Jackpot! Hiker Discovers Ancient Reptile Footprints Near Las Vegas

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | November 1, 2016 04:58pm ET

SALT LAKE CITY — About 290 million years ago, a four-legged reptile with three toes on each of its back feet strolled across the mucky land, the waves of a tidal flat likely lapping near its feet, a new study finds.

The ancient environment preserved this creature's footprints in a fossilized trackway that researchers are calling Chelichnus gigas. (Scientists name trackways like they do new species.) However, although researchers have a clear view of the animal's back feet, the shape of its front feet remains a mystery.

That's because like many four-legged (or tetrapodal) animals, this ancient critter's back feet would have stepped directly on top of the freshly made footprints of its front feet, meaning that the front footprints are obscured by the back ones, said study lead researcher Stephen Rowland, a professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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