Things to Do

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area Take Visitors on a Journey Back in Time in the Texas Hill Country

By  | 

We hate spam too, we'll never share your email address

 

 

In a spot so far inland now, it’s hard to believe it was at one time considered the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, dinosaur tracks that are believed to be approximately 110 million years old have been unearthed in Government Canyon State Natural Area in the Texas Hill Country. The tracks, believed to be those of a Sauroposeidon and an Acrocanthosaurus were found in Bexar County in 2014, and the Witte Museum has worked with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to document and research the footprints since.

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area Take Visitors on a Journey Back in Time in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Facebook/Christine Ray

Aside from its natural beauty, Government Canyon State Natural Area has over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails ranging from remote and rugged to gentle and rolling. In addition, visitors can enjoy picnicking, trail running, geocaching, and regularly scheduled guided hikes as well as ranger programs. Now they can add the viewing of these tracks to their to-do list at the home of the only known dinosaur tracks on public land within Bexar County.

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area Take Visitors on a Journey Back in Time in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Facebook/Government Canyon State Natural Area – Texas Parks and Wildlife

According to a joint press release from TPWD and the Witte Museum, Acrocanthosaurus was a large theropod (carnivorous, bipedal dinosaur) that could grow up to 40 feet in length and weigh two to three tons. Sauroposeidon was a genus of sauropod, which was a large, four-legged, herbivorous dinosaur. They had very long necks, small heads, and long tails, and could reach sizes of up to 110 feet in length and weigh 60 tons. TPWD and the Witte have been developing and providing interpretation, tours and exhibits regarding the tracks, and working on methods for their conservation and protection. As such, the public will be able to see the tracks one of two ways: either by visiting the Witte’s dinosaur exhibit or by hiking to the dinosaur track location in Government Canyon State Natural Area.

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area Take Visitors on a Journey Back in Time in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Facebook/Richard Vasquez

Witte Museum curator of Paleontology and Geology, Thomas Adams, Ph.D., explains, “Hundreds of dinosaur tracks represent a time when the San Antonio area was on the shore of the ancient Gulf of Mexico. Discovering that dinosaurs once lived in what is now Bexar County contributes significantly to the area’s natural history.” Superintendent of the natural area, Chris Holm, also noted, “This exciting partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Witte Museum brings in-depth scientific study and interpretation that will help us protect the tracks and educate generations of visitors about this area and the creatures that roamed here millions of years ago.”

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area Take Visitors on a Journey Back in Time in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Facebook/Richard Vasquez

At the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery of the Witte Museum, they invite you to explore the first permanent dinosaur gallery in the 90-year history of the facility. Together with details on the Government Canyon State Natural Area tracks, the museum is also home to the full skeleton of the meat-eating Acrocanthosaurus whose footprints were one of the two species found there. It helps to illustrate the story of dinosaurs walking and living along the beach at a period when the Gulf of Mexico once covered what is now San Antonio. The Ethan Walsh Deep Ocean Exhibit, also at the Witte, will further explain the ancient seas that once covered great parts of Texas 90 million years ago, including the coastal marshes which were home to giant crocodiles and West Texas studies identifying the a full-size Tyrannosaurus rex that once roamed its river valleys 70 million years ago. It’s really quite the experience and exciting to think how much has changed in the region over that time period. The Witte Museum and Government Canyon State Natural Area invite you to learn more about this as well as their collaboration on the Acrocanthosaurus and Sauroposeidon tracks, and journey back in time in the Texas Hill Country.

Sources:

Witte Museum – Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery

Witte Museum

TPWD & Witte Museum Press Release

Government Canyon State Natural Area