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DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS AND TRACKS IN NAMIBIA. From Early Jurassic Epoch thought to be laid down by Ceratosaurus and Syntarsus

 

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Dinosaur Footprints and Tracks In Namibia Early Jurassic Epoch Ceratosaurus Syntarsus

 

 

Dinosaur footprints and fossils never fail to raise interest as to what type of creature left the footprints. 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 difference.

 

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

 

Dinosaur Tracks and how they were formed:

From what is present at the site the following is known:

  • The area of the ancient continent of Gondwana where Namibia is now situated had experienced a semi tropical climate for millions of years, but in the Early 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 rainwater.
  • 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 formation.
  • The rock at the site is Etjo Sandstone that formed in the Karoo Age (300 - 120 million years ago)
  • 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.

General Location of Attraction

Otjozondjupa Region

2120'S - 1650'E

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Dinosaur Tracks, Syntarsus

The single and smaller track-way

Direction
Track Length
Average Stride
Imprint length
Easterly
11.8m / 38.7ft
35cm / 13.8inch
6.5cm / 2.56inch

 

Dinosaur Tracks of Syntarsus

Dinosaur Tracks  by the river bed

Dinosaur Track Syntarsus Footprint

 Dinosaur Footprint

Dinosaur Track of Syntarsus  Imprint Length 6.5cm

Dinosaur footprint

Dinosaur Syntarsus

Syntarsus

 

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 Syntarsus fossils was found.

 

Dinosaur Tracks Ceratosaurus

The two larger track-ways that cross over each other.

Direction Track Length Average Stride Foot length Foot Width
North Westerly 28m |  92ft 67cm | 26.4" 22.5cm | 8.86" 19cm | 7.5"
South Westerly 37m | 121ft 35cm | 13.8" 22.5cm | 8.86" 19cm | 7.5"

 

Ceratosaurus

Ceratosaurus

Dinodaur Tracks of Ceratosaurus foot prints

Ceratosaurus trackway on the hillside

Dinosaur Track of Ceratosaurus foot print

Ceratosaurus track

My capable assistant Lourie

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 Great'.

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Dinosaur Footprints and Tracks

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