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The influence of fossil footprints on rock art

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  • 1. THE INFLUENCE OF FOSSIL FOOTPRINTS ON ROCK ART © Peter Faris, 2008
  • 2. Dinosaur Ridge, west of Denver, CO.
  • 3. Dinosaur Ridge, west of Denver, CO.
    • For Native American peoples who depended on hunting, attention to animal tracks could mean the difference between life and death. They would have invariably seen fossil trackways in their environment and must have had explanations for this phenomenon .
  • 4. Shay Canyon, Indian Creek, UT.
  • 5. Picketwire Canyonlands, CO.
  • 6. Picketwire Canyonlands, CO.
  • 7. Potash Road trackway, Moab, UT.
  • 8. Potash Road trackway, Moab, UT. Their explanations for these tracks often involved beliefs in great mythological creatures. A Navajo name for such fossil tracks is Naasho’illbahitsho Biikee’ (big lizard tracks).
  • 9. Examples of images seemingly reproducing fossil tracks as pictographs and petroglyphs have been found, proving that they had noticed them.
  • 10. Chirotherium track, Joseph City, NM. Mayor and Serjeant, 2001.
  • 11. This petroglyph is located only a few feet from the Chirotherium track. Mayor and Serjeant, 2001.
  • 12. Joseph City, NM. Mayor and Serjeant, 2001.
  • 13. Another site of fossilized dinosaur tracks is found at Flag Point, in the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, UT.
  • 14. Near the tracksite a pictograph panel appears to accurately reproduce one of the three-toed dinosaur tracks.
  • 15. At Cub Creek in Dinosaur National Monument, UT, a panel of large lizard petroglyphs are focusing on a small Fremont style human figure (ca. 1400 to 1000 BP).
  • 16. The largest lizard measures approx. 6’ in length. In proportion to the size of the human figure this would represent a creature of about 30’ in length.
  • 17. All together there are eight large lizards on, and around, the main panel. Clearly gigantic lizards were highly significant at Cub Creek.
  • 18. Over 100 fossil track sites have been recorded in and around Dinosaur National Monument. One, the Cub Creek trackway is located a couple of miles upstream from the petroglyph panel. Photo: 2005, John Meyer, BLM, Vernal, UT.
  • 19. This site has tracks of over 50 individual vertebrates (Martin Lockley, 1995). Photo: John Meyer, BLM, Vernal, UT, 2005.
  • 20. John Meyer, BLM, Vernal, UT, 2005
  • 21. Photo: 2005, John Meyer, BLM, Vernal, UT. Therapod track at the Cub Creek track site.
  • 22. Tracks at the Cub Creek track site. Photo: 2005, John Meyer, BLM, Vernal, UT.
  • 23. Lizard track, Lobo Valley, TX.
  • 24. Cub Creek petroglyph site, Dinosaur National Monument, UT.
    • I believe it is
    • possible that the
    • giant lizards at Cub
    • Creek were inspired by the “giant lizard tracks”nearby.