Dinosaur tracks found on vacant property in a small Utah town could soon be protected as part of a new U.S. national monument.
Sheldon Johnson, who owns the 50-acre parcel of land in St. George, discovered the evidence of ancient life while excavating a hill in February 2000. Johnson's original plans would have converted the plot, next to a school, into an industrial park.
"It's a remarkable site," says James I. Kirkland, the state paleontologist of Utah. More than 100 footprints of meat-eating theropod dinosaurs have been uncovered there, as well as grooves where the creatures' tails dragged in the mud. Says Kirkland: "Hats off to Mr. Johnson," who, rather than helping to preserve the site, could have quietly bulldozed the fossils into oblivion.