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Utah Tourists Won't Stop Tossing 200-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Fossils Into A Lake

May 11, 2018 09:23 AM EDT
Dinosaur Footprint
Footprints and other fossils are the final traces of dinosaurs on Earth, but tourists are just chucking them into the water at Utah's Red Fleet State Park.
(Photo : Jeff Pachoud | AFP/Getty Images)

The Utah state parks officials are imploring tourists to stop lobbing 200-million-year-old dinosaur fossils into a lake at the Red Fleet State Park.

It's millions of years of history down the drain, lost forever due to public ignorance.

Utah State Parks' Plea

The State Parks office released a statement on their website asking park visitors to be more considerate of the precious fossils on the grounds of Red Fleet.

Apparently, a growing number of tourists have been destroying the sandstone slabs in the park and then chucking it into the water. Many of these slabs are imprinted with dinosaur tracks dating back 200 million years ago.

In the last six months, at least 10 dinosaur tracks have been damaged, including a slab with the toe-prints of what is likely the three-toed Deinonychus, according to History.

Josh Hansen, park manager of Red Fleet State Park, says that a lot of the visitors who engage in this act of vandalism are not aware that they're destroying such a valuable piece of history.

"Some of the tracks are very distinct to the layperson," Hansen explains in a statement. "But just as many are not. That is why it is important to not disturb any rocks at the dinosaur trackway."

He continues that these people are ruining the experience for other tourists who may be trekking from various places around the world to Red Fleet in order to see the paleontology wonders.

Red Fleet Cracks Down On The Vandalism Cases

For people who care little about preserving millions of years of history, perhaps knowing it's a crime will stop them. History notes that the dinosaur footprints in Red Fleet are not officially classified as fossils, but state of Utah treats them as such anyway.

"It is illegal to displace rocks that contain the tracks," Hansen stresses in his statement. "Disturbing them like this is an act of vandalism."

Those who violate the park rules and displace the tracks could be charged with a felony.

BGR reports that the Red Fleet State Park officials are considering hiring divers to attempt a recovery of the slabs of rock that have already sunk to the bottom of the lake. Many are already heavily or entirely damaged though, so salvaging the rocks may prove to be fruitless.

The park has already put up additional signs along the trails where dinosaur tracks are located. They're hoping word will spread about the unfortunate incidents, urging visitors to keep from repeating these mistakes once they step inside the park.

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