Saturday, November 12, 2016

Researchers puzzle over tracks that predate dinosaurs (Gold Butte)

Roughly 290 million years before rancher Cliven Bundy brought international attention to the Gold Butte area, an early reptile the size of a baby crocodile left its own lasting impressions there. A team of researchers from UNLV recently announced the discovery of fossilized footprints 60 million years older than the earliest dinosaurs on a slab of sandstone about 115 miles northeast of Las Vegas, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The ancient footprints on public land were actually discovered about two years ago by Mesquite resident Tom Cluff, a retired U.S. Forest Service employee turned amateur paleontologist who also serves on the board of the Friends of Gold Butte, an advocacy group pushing for permanent protection of the area. Rowland and his students began studying the tracks last fall, then returned in the site in February to document it in detail. He and three students presented their findings for the first time Oct. 27 at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Salt Lake City. They are now at work on a full study they hope to submit for publication in a peer-reviewed journal early next year...more

They began their study last fall, returned in February for further documentation, but don't have a "full study" that has been peer reviewed. Yet they gave a presentation two weeks ago on their findings. Perhaps this explains the timing of all this:
Though Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation loudly opposed the idea, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has made it his mission to persuade President Barack Obama to designate Gold Butte as a national monument before both men leave office early next year. As far as Rowland is concerned, the area deserves “some sort of special protected staus” beyond what exists there now. These ancient fossilized footprints only bolster that argument, he said.“I think this is a really good example of what some of the unknown treasures of Gold Butte are.”

No comments: