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Namibia


Dinosaur Footprints

Namibia

There are a number of well-preserved dinosaur footprints on the Farm Otjihaenamaparero near Kalkfeld in Namibia. These huge footprints were impressed into the sandstone between 170,000 and 200,000 years ago. In prehistoric times, sandstone was of a loose constituency and would record any animal imprint. The spoors of dinosaurs that are preserved on this farm are in hard sandstone. The landscape differed greatly from today's scenery, which is dominated by Etjo Table Mountain as opposed to the low flats of millions of years ago.

Palaeontologists look for fossils in areas where wind and water have eroded away the land to expose deep, fossil-bearing layers of rock. The area around Farm Otjihaenamaparero is such a place. These discoveries and subsequent studies of fossils, helps to explain the type of animal life that prowled the earth's surface in the late Triassic-early Jurassic period.

A dinosaur is the name of kind of reptile that lived millions of years ago. The word dinosaur comes from 2 Greek words meaning 'terrible lizard'. They were not lizards though, but the size of them must have been quite terrifying. Dinosaurs could live in a variety of surroundings, from swamps to open plains. Their legs were under their bodies enabling them to lift the dinosaur's body off the ground and walk on their hind legs. As they weighed more than 10 times more than a full-grown elephant, it is no surprise that their footprints could be so large and make such an impression.

It is only in recent geological terms that the footprints became exposed, (in the Ice Age), as they were still hidden below the surface. Today they are visible in the 'Etjo Sandstone' (which for what it is worth) dips by an angle of 7° at the site of the footprints.

The dinosaur footprints were first reported by Von Huene in 1925. He identified them as being tracks made from dinosaur's. There were 2 different tracks identified by Heinz in 1932, situated on 2 slabs of sandstone. On 1 of them, there are 2 intersecting spoors consisting of 34 and 35 tracks respectively. The length of each step varies from 1.4m and 1.65m. All of the others are on another slab of sandstone.

The most impressive of the fossil tracks can be followed for about 32m. These are for a 3-toed bipedal animal, belonging to dinosaurs. They were believed to be shaped similar to kangaroos with powerful hind legs and comparatively small fore limbs, but ran more like an ostrich as opposed to leaping like a kangaroo.

The Dinosaur Footprints are situated on the Farm Otjihaenamaparero, No 92, near the Etjo Mountain. They were proclaimed a national monument on 1st August 1951.

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Safaris in Namibia