Do-you-think-he-saurus Rex

19 Jun

For our next adventure on the Winton to-do list… Lark Quarry! What’s so special about Lark Quarry? It’s the only fossilized evidence of a dinosaur stampede. And it was the inspiration for the stampede scene in Jurassic Park. Our curiosity of this site is constantly refreshed every time we walk outside because most of the public rubbish bins on the main road are Lark Quarry themed…

Image

Most of our friends that live in Winton have been to Lark Quarry… just not since they were little kids. Brendan was our lucky host for this adventure so he got to drive with us alllll the way out to the dinosaur trackways, almost 2 hours away.

Upon arrival, there is a bridge connecting the parking lot to the actual building that covers the footprints, on which you “travel back through time” with a series of periodical developments, such as first homo sapiens, ice age, etc. Brendan told us the last time he was here, the footprints were open to all the elements and even though there was a little pathway, the kids would hop over and run amuck with the herding footprints. The new conservation building was constructed in 2002 to help preserve it… from kiddos running amuck and erosion from weather.

conservation building

So here’s the story: In the 1960s a station manager in a nearby opal quarry found what he thought were dinosaur footprints. Paleontologists came and excavated the site in the 1970s and after removing about 60 tonnes of rock, they uncovered some 3300 dinosaur footprints. There are 3 different types of species identified from the footprints. What scientists believe happened is that there were 2 smaller species of dinos (lizard-hipped and bird-hipped dinos). Though the lizard-hipped dinos are carnivorous and the bird-hipped dinos are vegetarian, they can tell through the spacing of the footprints that they were co-existing peacefully around a lake. Then a much larger set of footprints from a carnivorous theropod comes barging into the scene and all the animals (approximately 150-180) fled the scene. The footprints become spaced farther and farther apart so it is obvious the animals went from meandering around to long running strides as they attempted to escape this large predator.

footprint

stampede scene

You can see where there are still chunks that have not been fully excavated. These serve as a sort of insurance in case something happens to the existing footprints that have been uncovered.

So why are these footprints still here? I’ll quote one of the boards in the museum:

After the stampede occurred conveniently on the muddy banks of a river 95 million years ago, “the mud hardened; the lake slowly rose, covering the tracks; buried by the next flood; thousands of years; sediments laid down forming rock over millions of years; and then the world changed. Dinosaurs disappeared. Once a lush lake, now a dry mountain range. Rain, runoff stripped away the rocks forming gullies, mesas, hard topped escarpments. Fast forward 1976-77 paleontologists, volunteers excavate the only known dinosaur stampede on earth.”

After our tour, we went on a nice loop-de-loop hike, which turned out to be a very short trail. But it was a nice way to stretch our legs and good a good view of the place before we hopped back in the car.

lark quarry w emma

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