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dinosaurs, fossils, history, Texas

The bottom of the Paluxy River holds dinosaur tracks from millions of years ago.

In an area of Texas between Austin and Dallas, there's a riverbed that holds real, honest-to-goodness dinosaur footprints, bringing out the 5-year-old in all of us.

How did they get there, you ask? When dinosaurs roamed the area 113 million years ago, the land was at the edge of a tidal sea. Shells from crustaceans that lived in the sea created calcium carbonate deposits, forming a lime-rich mud that was the perfect consistency to preserve the tracks of dinosaurs that occasionally crossed the tidal flats.

Since then, the dinosaur tracks have been preserved under layers of sediment and silt. They were first discovered in 1909 by a young boy named George Adams, who found some odd three-toed tracks in a limestone riverbed. But it wasn't until 1937 that paleontologist R.T. Bird explored the area and recognized multiple trackways from therapods and sauropods whose footprints had been preserved almost perfectly under layers of mud.


Today, these trackways can be viewed in Dinosaur Valley State Park. The Paluxy River regularly has dry spots that allow some tracks to be seen at different times, but, according to ABC News, the drought in Texas has revealed tracks that even the park rangers haven't been able to see in at least 20 years.

To be clear, the footprints don't appear looking like this when the river dries up. Workers and volunteers have to meticulously clear away the dry mud and sediment with water, leaf blowers and brooms so that the definition of the tracks becomes visible in the limestone. But once they do, they look like something straight out of a movie.

The tracks above are found at the Taylor site, one of multiple track viewing sites in the park.

"The Paluxy River has pretty much gone dry this drought," a worker shared in a video posted on the Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park Facebook page. "What's cool about the river is what you'll find in the river. Sweep a little bit of the dirt and dust away and this is what you'll find…dinosaur tracks. You see claw marks. These are awesome, awesome tracks. They are normally underwater so you normally don't get to see these."

The revealing of these particular tracks is exciting for researchers, who are mapping the dinosaur trackways in the park. Park Superintendent Jeff Davis told ABC News that the tracks at the Taylor site are possibly the longest tracks made by a single dinosaur in North America. Tracks that aren't usually visible in other sites have also been revealed in this drought, enabling people to see exactly where these enormous creatures walked millions and millions of years ago.

Drought isn't a good thing, but dinosaur tracks are an interesting silver lining. For more information about how these tracks came to be, visit the Dinosaur Valley State Park website.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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