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Cal Orko

 

 

At a cement quarry near Sucre, Bolivia, one can come close to traveling through Jurassic Park on the Dino Truck. You can follow in the footsteps of the monstrous dinosaurs that walked the land eons ago. When visitors arrive from the main plaza in Sucre, they are handed bright orange hard hats and herded outdoors to the sandy area outside the park’s small headquarters.

 

 

After entering the park, a guide with a basket of plastic dinosaurs describes how workers found the first footprints in 1998 and how shortly afterwards a German led expedition arrived to study the site. Each different plastic dinosaur illustrates a different species of dinosaur that roamed through this former swamp and lake bed.

 

 

The prints are found in an upended lake bed near Cal Orko outside of Sucre. The theory is that dinosaurs left their prints in the muddy bottom of the lake and surrounding wetlands. After the footprints fossilized, the earth’s plate moved, leaving the lake bottom nearly perpendicular to the earth and forming a wall of sorts. Month to month and week to week the shale continues to peel off, both naturally and due to the workers who continue to mine the quarry for construction purposes. As each layer crumbles at the hands of both man and nature, new layers appear.

 

 

After the orientation, guide and guest scramble through the sand and along a broad ledge below the wall. Without assistance, one can easily see the hundreds of gigantic dino-prints across the wall. Just walk up to the wall and look closely at the tracks, which range in size from small to very large. The depth and breadth of the tracks provides visitors with a sense of the size and the weight of these dinosaurs. With the help of the guide’s laser pointer, visitors can follow the claw prints of a tyrannosaur chasing its prey and trace the trail of more than 150 different kinds of dinosaurs.

 

 

Scrutinize this site with a scientific eye and observe that some dinosaurs are limping and others seem to meandering and still others running. You can discern this by looking at the depth of the tracks, smudge marks where an animal seems to be dragging a foot, and the distance between the tracks. With more than 2000 different prints, paleontologists consider this to be the richest find of tracks in the entire world.

 

The town of Cal Orko is creating a new museum, funded in large measure by the Inter American Development Bank. The museum will preserve the fossil record, tell the story, and advance research on the site.



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