Was it too good to be true? Recently, we discussed the findings of University of Utah researchers, who claimed to have discovered a mother lode of dinosaur tracks in the desert on the Arizona-Utah border. The announcement stoked the public’s fantasy of a “dinosaur dance floor,” a prehistoric get-together that left a dense and varied collection of dinosaur footprints and tail drags.
Now, some skeptical paleontologists who examined the site after the announcement have added to the already-lingering doubts: They think the “dinosaur dance floor” is just a bunch of unusual potholes formed from erosion.
One of the skeptics, Brent Breithaupt, director of the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum, put it bluntly in a press release: “There simply are no tracks or real track-like features at this site.” Ouch.
But the researchers, one of whom, Winston Seiler, is writing a master’s thesis based on the finding, are not retracting their study published in Palaios just yet. Seiler says they will work with the skeptics to get to the bottom of the dino prints/erosion potholes—and if they are proven wrong, well, “that’s part of science.”
Discoblog: Jurassic Footprints Reveal Dinosaur Dance Party
DISCOVER: The Paleontology of Footprints
DISCOVER: Tracking Dinosaur Family Values
80beats: Dinosaurs Ruled the World Because They “Got Lucky,” Say Scientists
Image: flickr / Jeff Kubina