Dinosaur dance floor! Really?

November 8th, 2008 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 8 (IANS) Scientists who hiked recently to the northern Arizona wilderness site touted as a “dinosaur dance floor” found no sign of the extinct creatures but plenty of eroded potholes.They saw dinosaur tracks en route, but none in the pockmarked “dance floor”.

One of them, paleontologist Brent Breithaupt, director and curator of the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum, said “there simply are no tracks or real track-like features at this site. We will be investigating the formation of these features in the upcoming study.”

Others in the group were US Bureau of Land Management paleontologist Alan Titus and geologist Rody Cox; and paleontologist Andrew Milner of the St. George (Utah) Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, according to a Utah university release.

“Science is an evolving process where we seek the truth,” said Marjorie Chan, professor and geologist at the university, co-author of a very recent study that concluded the pockmarked, three-quarter-acre site in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (Arizona) was a 190-million-year-old dinosaur “trample surface”.

“We went through the proper scientific process of careful study, comparisons with other published works and peer review” of the study by independent scientists, Chan added.

“We gave the project considerable critical thought and came up with a different interpretation than the paleontologists, but we are open to dialogue and look forward to collaborating to resolve the controversy,” she added.

Chan and Winston Seiler, who conducted the research, said they are not retracting their study, which was published in the October issue of Palaios. But they acknowledge there are strong arguments for the features being potholes rather than dinosaur tracks.

Chan said if the features are potholes, they are extremely unusual compared with typical potholes on the Colorado Plateau - and their formation still needs to be explained fully. She will work with Breithaupt and the others to examine the site in greater detail.

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