back to article Dinosaurs gathered at NASA Goddard site for fatal feeding frenzy

NASA is mostly known for exploring space, but it can also uncover wonders closer to home. On a summer’s day in 2012, fossil expert Ray Stanford was dropping off his wife Sheila, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA, when he stumbled across an odd feature stamped into exposed rock on a hillside …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    My eyes are the age of that slab...

    Any chance of an enbiggened version?

    1. Planetary Paul

      Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

      The linked Nature article has a slightly larger version, plus more photos.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

        Presumably this upsets the average science and climate change denying American that believes that the planet is only 5,000 years old?

        1. Named coward

          Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

          This doesn't upset the 5000-year-old-earth believers since they think it's all fake

          1. handleoclast

            Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

            This doesn't upset the 5000-year-old-earth believers since they think it's all fake

            Only some of them think that. The Answers In Genitals crowd, led by Ken Ham, have a rather more "creative" explanation. Noah took some dinosaurs with him on the Ark. The rest of the dinosaurs perished in the Noachian flood (which deposited all sedimentary rock at the same time). After the deluge, the animals (representatives of each "kind") mutated into the many species we see today (reducing the number of species required on the Ark). So "microevolution" is possible and occurred at a very much faster rate than we see today. For example, one pair of cats evolved into all the feliforms we now have, but "macroevolution" (dinosaurs evolving into birds) is impossible because reasons. Oh, in that digression I forgot about the dinosaurs carried on the Ark. They died out, because it was important Noah carry them on the Ark so they could survive the flood in order to die out (again, because reasons).

            I'm not making any of this up. Ken Ham built a theme park (mostly at taxpayer expense) called The Ark Encounter and now keeps pulling dodgy tricks to avoid having to pay resulting taxes.

            Noted creationist fucktard and convicted tax evader Kent Hovind has Dinosaur Adventure Land pushing similar Noachiosaurian bullshit where kiddies can ride dinosaurs just like Jesus did. Every time I think of Kent Hovind I end up watching this.

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

              ...where kiddies can ride dinosaurs just like Jesus did.

              I have a mental image of Jesus jumping onto a dinosaur like the Lone Ranger did on Silver and shouting as he rides off: "Hi Ho Saurus, and away!!!!".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

      "Any chance of an enbiggened version?"

      Engage zoom mode and move head nearer the picture?

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

        "Engage zoom mode and move head nearer the picture?"

        Here's something you might not have known: as the body ages, the muscles in the eye tend to harden, reducing the ability to close-focus. Too close and vision deteriorates, exacerbating the problem rather than mitigating it. As a person in possession of eyes in that state, and who frequently deals with small electronics, I'm personally and painfully aware of this fact.

        Parent did mention ageing eyes.

        Another factoid: lower-resolution photos tend to contain less detail than higher-resolution photos. Despite what you may have seen on CSI, zooming in does not add detail.

        Not to mention that I'm sure Parent tried that first.

        Those of us for whom details are an important part of our work find your reply to be naive, if not snarky.

        1. TheVogon

          Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

          "Here's something you might not have known: as the body ages, the muscles in the eye tend to harden"

          Whoooooosh. The sound of a Red Dwarf quote shooting way over your head.....

    3. Chris Tierney

      Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

      here you go

      1. psychonaut

        Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

        oh you haven't seen the half of it. try and get invited to "Christians against Dinosaurs" group on facebook. its hilarious. also join "dinosaurs against Christians against dinosaurs" for balance.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: My eyes are the age of that slab...

        @Chris Tierney,


        Though I still can't make out some of the 'obvious' tracks...

  2. fishman


    That's just a couple miles from my house. I'll have to keep my eyes open when I'm out for a walk.

  3. seven of five Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    tinfoil hat time!

    Of course there are diosaur tracks at this "NASA" facility! It was THEM who put disosaurs onto earth in first place from their secret time-travel centre. And when the dinoaurs disembarked they left the tracks. For their "sientissts" to find them.



    THEM, all the way. *spittle*

    1. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: tinfoil hat time!

      You've obviously been overexposed to the tinfoil brigade. I recommend medication.

      (In my case I tend to use single-malt. YMMV..)

  4. Andrew Commons

    Just a loose slab of rock?

    In the Nature piece it looks like a loose slab of rock buried in the ground...there maybe more of it nearby?

  5. arctic_haze


    Our lizard overlords and their mammalian minions were already observing the future NASA sites in the Lower Cretaceous.

  6. Paul Woodhouse

    Holy cow, that is a lot of animals in a very small space, guessing those impressions were left over quite a short period of time too...

    1. Bob Wheeler

      @ Paul,

      It was opening time at the local pub?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "It was opening time at the local pub?"

        That does raise an interesting question though. Assume human civilisation is wiped out tomorrow by, oh I dunno, a huge meteor strike. What evidence of us would archaeologists find in 65 million years? What about if we'd been wiped out 100 or 200 years ago?

        1. harmjschoonhoven

          @John Brown (no body)

          The index fossil of human civilisation (*) will be the bottlecap. Archeologists will quarrel over the distinction between, what we call, the Cola-Cola and Pepsi-Cola variant. They will also notice an association with concretions of hollow metal cilinders of seemingly standardized sizes.

          (*) Mahatma Gandhi answered ~1947 to the question what his opinion was on Western civilisation: What civilisation?.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: @John Brown (no body)

            ""Mahatma Gandhi answered ~1947 to the question what his opinion was on Western civilisation..."

            Probably apocryphal, but instead it may have been: "That would be nice".

            Civilization: the delta of the Ganges is as potable as the headwaters.

          2. Stuart21551

            Re: @John Brown (no body)

            I thought he said 'it would be a good idea'?

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Perhaps it was the edge of a watering hole.

      We know that around modern waterholes you get a dense mixture of species, plus I image the muddy banks would make for perfect fantastic fossil footprint formation.

    3. $till$kint

      Don't worry, someone in an NCIS lab* will be able to zoom in on that rock, rotate the image, extrapolate a full body view and reveal a reflection on the dinosaurs' eyeballs of a fast-approaching meteorite.

      (*there'll be a dead marine somewhere in the story to establish jurisdiction. Probably crushed in the stampede.)

    4. Michael Thibault

      "...guessing those impressions were left over quite a short period of time"

      Probably responding to news that the swamp was about to be drained.

      What else could explain the sudden exposure of a suitable patch of muck into which so many prints could so conveniently be made and subsequently be concreted to be discovered, as rock, more than 100 million years later?

  7. Chazmon

    It just goes to show there never was a time you could lay fresh concrete without something furry walking across it....

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      ...or, in this case, "scaly"

      1. TheVogon

        "or, in this case, "scaly""

        But dinosaurs were feathery ?! Are you confusing them with reptiles?

      2. Paul Woodhouse

        this case is interesting because of the amount of mammal prints in it... OP was correct with 'furry'

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doug McClure's footprints?

    Any sign of Doug McClure's footprints? :-)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Doug McClure's footprints?

      Joking aside, that story was written in a present day sense, ie "survivors" of thought to be extinct creatures rather than a time travel story.

  9. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Mankind's fossil record

    Various things may survive a large meteorite impact, such as would kill off most of us, but not actually destroy the planet. (There is a geological layer rich in iridium courtesy of one meteorite, see .)

    Indeed the world's geologists are currently considering what is the best geological marker for the start of the current Anthropocene age. My suggestion is lead in the geological record. When Clare Cameron Patterson ('Pat' to his friends) tried to deduce the age of the earth from the relative abundancies of lead isotopes, he discovered that humans had polluted the entire surface of the word with lead, primarily from the use of tetraethylead in gasoline. Everything you can see, eat, drink, touch etc. that is not over 7000 years old or specially refined is polluted with lead courtesy of us starting to smelt metals 7 millennia ago. The use of unleaded fuels now has helped reduce the amount of pollution, but it is still there.

    The other noticeable geological feature would be radioactive elements due to air-burst nuclear weapons in the mid 20th century. Other things which may survive could possibly be cut gemstones, and of course the amount of plastics we are putting into the oceans.

    One question, does the orientation indicator for North show the direction of North for the rock when it was found, or in the period when the pawprints were made? Don't want to be too controversial, but there are rumours that the continents might have move a tad in the last 140 million years.

  10. Joe Gurman

    Time to rename

    ....the NASA Center as "Cretaceous Park."

    1. Nolveys

      Re: Time to rename

      Time to rename

      ....the NASA Center as "Cretaceous Park."


      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Time to rename

        Yeah, that last thing we need is DINOSAUUUUUURS IN SPAAAAAAACE. Especially without a Doctor to help out.

  11. Mayday

    I'm amazed and impressed

    That these experts* can identify the creatures and the interactions based on what really is such a small amount of information.

    Well done!

    *Yes I realise that they are experts and this is their field and as such exactly what they are supposed to do, but I'm still impressed.

  12. Nimby

    "It's just tremendously exciting."

    Or ... not. I mean it's cool, as proof of what we already knew, but it adds nothing novel or new. In my book "tremendously exciting" would be finding a human print next to a dinosaur, or an unidentifiable (alien? robot?) footprint in the mix. "Life exactly as we expected it to be" does not really count as "tremendously exciting" to me. "Neato-keen" is about the best I can give it, but that's still no small "feet".

    Conspiracy theorists will, of course, just claim that NASA, purveyors of fake footprints on the "moon", were merely refining their technology back in the 80s (when dinosaurs were cool) and this is merely a re-discovered discarded test sample. If we find an old discarded pair of Shutter Shades trapped in the stone, then we have something I would consider "tremendously exciting", because conspiracy theorists are never right. (I hope nothing like that happens because when you feed the conspiracy nutters too much they begin to warp reality.)

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