People in North Western Australia are worried about how to protect a rich collection of dinosaur tracks that was made public earlier this month. Thieves and tourists could damage or even destroy what’s been called Australia’s own Jurassic Park. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
The Goolarabooloo people knew about the tracks for thousands of years, but had the good sense to keep them to themselves.
The secret spilled when the Australian Government decided to build a gas processing plant in the remote area, and the Goolarabooloo Traditional Custodians enlisted paleontology in the fight against it. They wrote to Steven Salisbury at the University of Queensland who described the track ways on the shoreline of the Dampier peninsula as the cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti or, in a more popular phrase, Australia’s own Jurassic Park. Many of the tracks are only visible at low tide and researchers had to take their chances with crocodiles and sharks.
They found six different meat eaters, a similar number of gigantic sauropods, four types of two legged plant eaters called ornithopods and six kinds of armored dinosaurs, including the first stegosaur seen in Australia. One footprint is five feet nine inches long – the biggest ever recorded.
The Goolarabooloo incorporated the tracks into a song cycle about creation. Steven Salisbury told the BBC: “The tracks show the journey of a creation being called Marala, the emu man.”
Now that the news is public, thousands of tourists are expected, and locals worry about damage or theft. Jan Lewis of the newly formed Dinosaur Coast Management Group told the ABC there was already a case of drunken backpackers seen heading down to the beach with a shovel.