Dinosaur footprints lost with crumbling Bolivia rock face

February 3, 2010

Around 300 dinosaur footprints believed to be around 65 million years old were lost when the rock wall that contained them cleaved off and crumbled, a Bolivian national park director said Wednesday.

Parque Cretacio director Wilmer Astete told ATB television that heavy rain and seismic instability had weakened a slab of rock measuring 80 meters (yards) in Cal Orcko, which means calcium peak in the Quechua language.

"That rock wall is about 140,000 square meters (1.5 million square feet) and part of it collapsed. We've lost 300 " made by two titanosaurs, he added.

The dinosaur tracks were destroyed on Tuesday, Astete said, adding that efforts to safeguard the entire rock wall from fracturing would cost up to 30 million dollars a year, far exceeding the reach of the park administration's budget.

Despite the loss, the park remains the site of one of the world's largest collection of dinosaur tracks, Astete said.

Some 5,000 footprints left by 300 species of from the Cretaceous period (65-145 million years ago) are embedded in the rock face at Cal Orcko, which is located a few kilometers outside Sucre, Bolivia's constitutional capital.

Local authorities said they were studying plans to protect the archeological site from further damage.

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