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Thu, Sept. 19

Geologist: Prehistoric reptile left tracks at Grand Canyon

UNLV geologist Stephen Rowland discovered that a set of 28 footprints left behind by a reptile-like creature 310 million years ago are the oldest ever to be found in Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo by Stephen Rowland/UNLV)

UNLV geologist Stephen Rowland discovered that a set of 28 footprints left behind by a reptile-like creature 310 million years ago are the oldest ever to be found in Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo by Stephen Rowland/UNLV)

LAS VEGAS — A geology professor from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said he recently identified fossilized tracks from a reptile along a popular trail in Grand Canyon National Park, a newspaper reported.

Professor Steve Rowland theorized that the tracks belong to a primitive reptile the size of a baby alligator and date back about 315 million years, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The 28 footprints run diagonally across a boulder on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail.

Rowland shared his findings at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He hopes to submit a scientific paper in January.

He first saw the prints last year during a family vacation and said they “turned out to be quite extraordinary.” He said he heard about them from another geologist who spotted them during a 2016 hike.

Scientists will likely never know exactly what kind of animal left the tracks, Rowland said, adding that he envisions a lizard-like creature about 2 feet in length, similar to a Galapagos iguana.

See additional story by Natialie Bruzda on our sister site:

Tiny footprints, big discovery: 28 small reptile tracks oldest ever found in Grand Canyon

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