Thousands of Bolivian Dinosaur Tracks in Danger

One of the largest sites for fossilized dinosaur footprints in the world is under threat of destruction, reports the AFP.

The paleontological wonder, located in Bolivia, dates back almost 65 million years. It is composed of over 5,000 footprints on the lime hill of Cal Orcko outside the city of Sucre. The tracks have been attributed to around eight species of dinosaurs including titanosaurs, ankylosauruses, and theropods. The site is an important tourist attraction, drawing 120,000 visitors each year.

Paleontologists are concerned that a nearby cement factory, Francesa, is placing the fossils at risk. Francesa mines limestone from a quarry nearby. “The cliff has been quite affected by the many years of extracting the raw material,” Elizabeth Baldivieso, administrator of Cretaceous Park, the private foundation that maintains the fossil field told the AFP

However, the regional Tourism and Cultural Secretary Juan Jose Padilla played down the risks, describing Baldevieso’s perspective on the situation as “somewhat alarmist.” He explained that Francesa has promised to help maintain the site and pointed out that some of the fossils were only discovered after the cement factory began surveying the quarry from which they currently source their limestone.

Bolivia attempted to have Cal Orcko designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The effort was abandoned after Francesa opposed the proposition, insisting that existing preservation measures were sufficient. The government has subsequently drafted a second application, which is due to be submitted in 2015.

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