ARIZONA NEWS

Cliff collapse at Grand Canyon reveals 313 million-year-old fossil footprints

Aug 21, 2020, 4:05 AM | Updated: 8:41 am
grand canyon fossil...
(Photo courtesy of Stephen Rowland/via Grand Canyon National Park)
(Photo courtesy of Stephen Rowland/via Grand Canyon National Park)

PHOENIX — The oldest recorded fossilized vertebrate tracks within Grand Canyon National Park were discovered following a cliff collapse, paleontological research has confirmed.

The tracks were discovered in 2016 when Norwegian geology professor, Allan Krill, was hiking with his students and noticed a boulder containing fossil footprints in plain view next to a trail.

Krill then sent photographs of the find to colleague Stephen Rowland, a paleontologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“These are by far the oldest vertebrate tracks in Grand Canyon, which is known for its abundant fossil tracks,” Rowland said in a press release.

“They are among the oldest tracks on Earth of shelled-egg-laying animals, such as reptiles, and the earliest evidence of vertebrate animals walking in sand dunes.”

The tracks recorded the passage of two separate animals; of particular interest to researchers is the gait displayed in one of the tracks.

The arrangement of footprints displays a lateral-sequence walk in which the legs on one side of the animal move in succession, the rear leg followed by the foreleg, alternating with the movement of the two legs on the opposite side.

“Living species of tetrapods, dogs and cats, for example, routinely use a lateral-sequence gait when they walk slowly,” Rowland said.

“The Bright Angel Trail tracks document the use of this gait very early in the history of vertebrate animals. We previously had no information about that.”

The footprints also document the earliest known utilization of sand dunes by vertebrate animals.

The boulder containing the historic find was determined to have fallen from a nearby cliff-exposure of the Manakacha Formation.

A research article of the fossilized tracks can be found online.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Police investigate Phoenix hit-and-run that left pedestrian dead

Police are investigating a Phoenix hit-and-run after a pedestrian crossing the street was killed on Sunday evening.
1 day ago
Katie Hobbs, the Democratic governor-elect and current secretary of state, signs the official certi...
KTAR.com

Arizona Sec. of State Hobbs requests recount of 3 election races

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs requested on Monday evening a recount of three general election races.
1 day ago
(File Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Fugitive since 2013 arrested in Mexico, extradited to Arizona

The FBI says a fugitive wanted for his involvement in a criminal drug enterprise has been extradited from Mexico and returned to Tucson.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Morgan Wallen)...
KTAR.com

Country artist Morgan Wallen to perform next year at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix

Country artist Morgan Wallen announced last week an upcoming stop in the Valley for his 2023 world tour.
1 day ago
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

Ron Wolfley expects Patriots to corner Kyler Murray, run the ball against Cardinals

Cardinals radio personality and Arizona Sports host Ron Wolfley has ideas on how the Patriots will play the Cardinals next Monday.
1 day ago
Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, left, signs the official Arizona general elect...
Kevin Stone

Arizona certifies 2022 election, setting stage for lawsuits, recounts

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified the state's 2022 general election Monday, but it doesn’t close the books on the midterms.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Cliff collapse at Grand Canyon reveals 313 million-year-old fossil footprints