Dinosaur footprints and fossils never fail to raise interest as to what type of creature left
If you are traveling in the Kalkveld - mount Etjo area of Namibia
you'll be well rewarded if you take the time and effort to make the
detour directing you to the Dinosaur Tracks that can be seen on the
Farm Otjihaenamaperero. These ancient footprints left by Ceratosaurus and
Syntarsus, two types of
early dinosaur offer an opportunity for some photos with a
At The Site: On Arrival at the Farm Otjihaenamaparero
you must open the farm gate (closing it after your entry onto the
site). You then drive through a small river bed. Please note if
visiting the site in the rainy season this river could be in flood
and you are most likely to experience difficulty if you are
driving a sedan car. The drive to the farm house is another 300m
where you pay the entrance fee and are shown to where the site is
nearby. There is a car park and camping area having shaded sites
with BBQ area. Shower and toilet facilities with hot and cold
running water. You then walk about 300 meters along a path that is
clearly marked with painted arrows to the site
and how they were formed:
From what is present at the site the following is known:
- The area of the ancient
Gondwana where Namibia is now situated had experienced a
semi tropical climate for millions of years, but in the
Jurassic Epoch about 200
million years ago was entering a
dry period where great and deep deserts would be formed. Wind blown
sands were being deposited and the available forest lands were
reducing causing the creatures to move near to where there was
available water, such as river flood plains and small lakes fed by
- The lakes were drying out and as
creatures crossed these areas they left their foot imprints in the
sandy sediments. Some of these tracks were covered with a layer of
clayey deposits and then further covered with continuing deposits of
sedimentary sands until they were buried to a depth of several
hundreds of meters
- The enormous pressures caused
by the depth of the overburden helped to solidify the lower sandy
layers resulting in what is now referred to as the Etjo Sandstone
- The rock at the site is Etjo
Sandstone that formed in the Karoo Age (300 - 120 million
- Early forms of the Welwitschia
plant would have been around at that time, but the flowering plants had
not yet evolved.
- The early bi-pedal dinosaurs were
descendants of the reptilian Archosaurs of the Triassic
Period (245 - 208
million years ago)
- The Dinosaur Tracks of Ceratosaurus and Syntarsus are estimated to be about 200 to 190
million years old which places them in the Early Jurassic Period (208 - 175 million years ago)
- Over the millions of years
that followed the softer overburden was eventually eroded away and
the dinosaur tracks were uncovered.
- There are track-ways on the site
from two different types of dinosaur.
- Positive identification as to
what creatures made the tracks is not possible. It is known that an
early family of Bi-Pedal Dinosaurs named Ceratosauria evolved and lived
during the geological period of time in which the tracks were formed
- The Otjihaenamaperero dinosaur
tracks are comparable with sets of tracks found in the USA that are
known to have been made by Ceratosauria and are referred to
as being thus further on this page.
Dinosaur Tracks, Syntarsus
The single and smaller track-way
11.8m / 38.7ft
35cm / 13.8inch
6.5cm / 2.56inch
Dinosaur Tracks by the river bed
As you approach the beginning of the Dinosaur Tracks
site you drive through a dry river bed. To your right you will see a
lengthy slab of exposed Etosha Sandstone rock. There is a small sign
indicating the first track-way. Drive on and park your vehicle in the
camping area and then walk back a short distance to view the Tracks. Syntarsus.
Was a small, hollow boned,
lightly built bipedal dinosaur that grew to about 3 meters in length
and weighed about 25 - 32 kilograms. The ankle bones were fused
together (from which its name is derived). Syntarsus had a three toed foot (tridactyl)
and a four clawed hand. Carnivorous predators,
they were a fast and agile runners and are thought to have hunted in
packs. Syntarsus fossils have been
found on the North American Continent in Arizona and on the African
continent in Namibia and Zimbabwe where a bone bed containing about 30
fossils was found.
Dinosaur Tracks Ceratosaurus
The two larger track-ways that cross over each other.
||28m | 92ft
||67cm | 26.4"
||22.5cm | 8.86"
||19cm | 7.5"
||37m | 121ft
||35cm | 13.8"
||22.5cm | 8.86"
||19cm | 7.5"
Ceratosaurus trackway on the hillside
My field assistant at work
From the camp site area it's about a 300 meter walk to
the Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Tracks. There are white arrows
painted on the rocks to direct you to the area. To the dismay of the National
Heritage Council, the farmer on whose land the tracks are, has
painted white circles around some of the tracks for ease of finding.
The Namibian sun is strong, so I am sure that the paint marks will soon be
bleached away. Ceratosaurus: These were
one of the earliest proper Theropods that lived from the Late Triassic
through to the Late Cretaceous
Period. Ceratosaurus grew up to 6 meters in
length and could weigh up to 1 ton. They were heavily set carnivorous predators
having a three toed (tridactyl) foot and a four clawed hand. Some varieties had horned
snouts and crests on their heads. Ceratosaurus fossils have been
found on the North American continent in Colorado and Utah, and on the
African continent in Namibia and Tanzania.
There are two separate sets of Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Tracks. One
running down to hill in a North Westerly direction for about 28
meters, and a similar set running crossways in a South Westerly
direction for about 37 meters. The overall length of a footprint
is 22.5cm having a width of 19cm. the fore-toe is 8,5cm in
length and the diagonal distance between the footprints is
between 67 and 90 cm.
Acknowledgements and further reading: G1, G3, P1, W1, W2,W4
Of Interest: Prehistoric imprints such as the Dinosaur Tracks
above are called Trace Fossils or Ichnofossils.
The word DINOSAUR was termed by Richard Owen in 1842 is derived from the Greek "deinos" meaning 'Fearfully