DENVER – New evidence discovered by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver has revealed evidence of prehistoric raptors at Dinosaur Ridge.
"Dinosaur Ridge is internationally known for its tracks and what's exciting is you can still find new stuff," geologist Martin Lockley said.
The study, published by Lockley and his team, reports finding evidence of rare raptor tracks with sickle claws—reminiscent of those popularized in countless movies.
It’s the first discovery of two-toed tracks in Colorado and the second ever in North America.
“These two-towed tracks are very rare,” said Lockley, who has recently worked with Chinese researcher Lida Xing to document the global distribution of this type of track. “There are only about 16 reports worldwide and 12 of these are from China and Korea.”
The dinosaurs actually had three toes.
"It carried one of its toes retracted back like a cat. Because of this big claw that was retracted, they became like really famous especially with Jurassic Park. Every kid would know these dinosaurs," said Lockley.
Before the discovery at Dinosaur Ridge, the only convincing reports of this type came from the Moab area of eastern Utah in rocks about 112 million years old.
Although Lockley and his collegues have spent decades studying hundreds of sites at Dinosaur Ridge and throughout Colorado, they have never found evidence of raptor tracks. Lockley says the reason is that the recently discovered tracks were found in a different, older layer of rock dating back 105 million years.
“A few million years is a long time in evolution and plenty of time for changes in the ancient environment and ecosystem,” Lockley said. “The discovery of these raptor tracks demonstrate the substantial changes in the Cretaceous landscapes in North America over time.”
Lockley said the size of the raptor track shows the dinosaur was about the size of an emu. While it wasn't very large, the sickle claw made it a deadly carnivore.
(© 2016 KUSA)