As scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland have been looking up for extraterrestrial life and other cosmic findings, if they'd only shifted their gaze downward they might have seen something else not of this world -- at least not for a very long time.
The "proud amateur dinosaur tracker" Ray Stanford told NASA last week where he had found the footprint of a plant eating nodosaur from the Cretaceous period right in NASA's own backyard:
“This was a large, armored dinosaur,” Stanford said. “Think of it as a four-footed tank. It was quite heavy, there’s a quite a ridge or push-up here. … Subsequently the sand was bound together by iron-oxide or hematite, so it gave us a nice preservation, almost like concrete.”
Stanford also identified and presented several smaller footprints – three-toed, flesh-eating therapods – to Goddard officials from the same site.
He called the location of the find “poetic.”
“Space scientists may walk along here, and they’re walking exactly where this big, bungling heavy armored dinosaur walked, maybe 110 to 112-million years ago,” Stanford said.
Watch Stanford explain the find:
NASA said it considers the location of the print on its Greenbelt, Md., grounds "sensitive but unclassified." As it is on federal land, it could violate three laws if removed. The agency is consulting experts on how to preserve the area around the prints.
Check out more photos of the footprint here.
(H/T: Fox News)