Dinosaur Footprint Discovered in NASA’s Back Yard

While NASA was busy peering into deep space to find the origins of life, an ancient life-form had left an indelible print right in its own back yard. Noted dinosaur hunter, Ray Stanford, went hunting on the property of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center based on a “hunch” he had. Incredibly, he found what he was looking for, a cretaceous era dinosaur footprint belonging to a large herbivorous nodosaur.

Pictured below, you can see the imprint left behind by the ancient creature. “This was a large, armored dinosaur,” Stanford said. “Think of it as a four-footed tank. It was quite heavy, there’s a quite a ridge or push-up here. … Subsequently the sand was bound together by iron-oxide or hematite, so it gave us a nice preservation, almost like concrete.”

This imprint shows the right rear foot of a nodosaur – a low-slung, spiny leaf-eater – apparently moving in haste as the heel did not fully settle in the cretaceous mud, according to dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Ray Stanford

Stanford, a self-taught dinosaur tracker, has a history of significant finds in Maryland. He found the first ever fossilized nodosaur hatchling. Nodosaurs were a relative of the better-known ankylosaurs. They were large plant eaters that lumbered low to the ground. Stanford has also found prints of Maryland dinosaurs that they don’t even have bones for yet. In a Washington Post article, Johns Hopkins University expert David Weishampel speaking about Ray’s collection said, “the best collection of footprints we have from early Cretaceous era of the East Coast”.

Below, you can see an embedded NASA’s Flickr share with pictures and videos.

Right now NASA personnel are treating the area as sensitive, as they do not want anyone to damage or try to steal the fossil. They hope to be able to open some type of public display in the future.

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Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!