Vandals Smash 115M-Year-Old Dinosaur Footprint
Print was in one of the only known polar dinosaur sites
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2017 4:26 AM CST
The dinosaur footprint after the vandalism.   (Parks Victoria)

(Newser) – Some 115 million years ago in what is now South Australia, a theropod dinosaur left a footprint that remained through the ages until this month, when somebody deliberately smashed it. Officials say they were "disheartened" to discover the vandalism at the famous Flat Rocks site in Victoria state. "It looked like somebody had taken to it with either a hammer or a rock, and had broken off sections of the toes," Parks Victoria ranger Brian Martin tells the BBC. Martin says the vandals left freshly broken pieces of rock scattered around the tidal rock platform. The site, which dates from a time when Australia was still connected to Antarctica, is one of the only polar dinosaur sites ever discovered.

The footprint was discovered in 2006, and officials say it was left uncovered so that visitors could have the thrill of standing where a meat-eating dinosaur stood millions of years ago. "For someone to damage it intentionally, you'd have to have a rough idea of where it is because seaweed grows on the rock platform and it looks like a normal rock until you look closely and see the outline of the footprint," Martin tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Authorities say they may be able to restore the footprint to some degree, using the broken pieces of rock and a rubber mold taken by paleontologists in 2006. (Scientists in Alaska have discovered what they say is one of the world's great dinosaur track sites.)

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