Texas Drought Yields Dino Tracks, WWI Shipwrecks

'If I was ever going to find anything, this would be the best time to do it'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2023 9:55 AM CDT
Dino Tracks, WWI Shipwrecks Emerge Amid Texas Drought
This photo taken by Bill Milner shows a wooden shipwreck in East Texas' Neches River.   (Ice House Museum)

As of Monday, 79% of the state of Texas was in drought, with 12% in "exceptional drought." Those conditions, though challenging for residents, have the upside of revealing some remarkable finds. At Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, officials have uncovered at least 70 new dinosaur tracks "normally hidden under the water and mud of the Paluxy River," per the Houston Chronicle. Thought to be around 110 million years old, the prints were likely made by two species of dinosaur: Acrocanthosaurus, a three-toed, roughly 7-ton bipedal predator that would've stood 15 feet tall, and a specimen of Sauroposeidon, the tallest known dinosaur, which stood around 60 feet tall and weighed 44 tons. This follows additional discoveries last year.

"Two consecutive years of high temps and drought conditions ... has given us the opportunity to uncover new tracks," though "once we receive a decent rain, most of the tracks will be covered up again," says Paul Baker, retail manager at Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park. Before that happens, paleontologists will map and cast the tracks, which represent the most ever seen by staff at the Ballroom site, per the Chronicle. Some 300 miles to the southeast near Silsbee, five World War I-era shipwrecks, each 80 feet to 100 feet long, have reportedly been rediscovered in the Neches River. Retiree Bill Milner said his friend Susan Kilcrease, who's curator of the Ice House Museum, told him to look for emerging shipwrecks during his regular trips to the river, per NBC News.

"I really thought in my mind that if I was ever going to find anything, this would be the best time to do it," Milner tells the outlet, noting he's never seen the water level so low. He set out on a Jet Ski and found the five wooden ships. They were built in nearby Beaumont and operated by the US Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC), which was in charge of merchant ships used to transport soldiers and supplies to France, per Smithsonian. Nearly 40 EFC vessels were abandoned in East Texas rivers after the war, according to the Texas Historical Commission, which describes the region as "one of the largest collections of WWI vessel abandonment sites in the United States." Officials aren't revealing the exact location of the wrecks to protect them from looters. (More dinosaurs stories.)

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