Dinosaur tracks found in sandstone on NASA's Goddard campus

A newly published study sheds light on the slab of dinosaur tracks an expert discovered near the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center back in 2012. According to researchers, the sandstone slab contains a minimum of 70 tracks from dinosaurs and mammals, and they date back more than one million years. The entire slab was discovered after Ray Stanford, a dinosaur track expert in Maryland, spotted a nodosaur track on land in the Goddard Space Flight Center's campus.

The nodosaur track discovery prompted the excavation of the fossil, which was part of a big stone slab. That slab was then analyzed by University of Colorado at Denver paleontologist Martin Lockley, Stanford and other experts. During that analyses, more than 70 tracks were found preserved in the sandstone.

Among those 70 or so tracks, NASA says that at least 26 of them are from mammals. The overall slab, meanwhile, measures about 8ft long and 3ft wide, whereas the mammals would have been around the size of a squirrel and the dinosaurs were "tank-sized," according to the space agency.

A total of eight species are represented on the slab, and researchers say they probably collectively made the tracks on that area within a few days of each other. The huge number of tracks on such a relatively small piece of rock makes this a monumental discovery, according to Lockley, who said:

The concentration of mammal tracks on this site is orders of magnitude higher than any other site in the world. I don't think I've ever seen a slab this size, which is a couple of square meters, where you have over 70 footprints of so many different types. This is the mother lode of Cretaceous mammal tracks.