- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) Scientists have found dinosaur tracks perhaps 115 million years old along the Rappahannock River.
The fossilized prints suggest the presence of seven or eight species from the early Cretaceous Period and represent the oldest evidence of dinosaurs in the Fredericksburg area, said Robert Weems of the U.S. Geological Survey.
"We've probably only found half of what's there," said Mr. Weems, a research geologist.
Mr. Weems and Jon Bachman, a former science teacher and amateur paleontologist from Stafford County, said they found the prints last summer near the Rappahannock River in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.
Mr. Bachman also found Cretaceous Period tracks in Stafford in the mid-1990s, but the duo said their more recent discovery is larger and more varied.
"This is significant," Mr. Bachman said. "It also goes to show that tracks are common."
The species sizes range from Archaeornithomimus, which was about the size of an ostrich and ran like one, to a 70-foot-long Sauroposeidon, a long-necked plant-eater.
Also found was evidence of Priconodon, a spike-armored herbivore; Eolambia, a duck-billed creature; Iguanadont, a spiked-thumb dinosaur; and a Hypsilophodont, a small plant-eater. The scientists also identified one carnivore, 10-foot-tall Megalosaurus, and a crocodile.
During the period in question, the area's flora included dense fernlike vegetation and big sequoialike trees, Mr. Weems said. A river flowed in the same place and in the same direction as the Rappahannock.
The dinosaurs died out about 60 million years ago, after which the region was flooded repeatedly. "Chances are the whole area of the Rappahannock was flooded by the sea," Mr. Weems said.
The Cretaceous Period came at the end of the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic represents the period during which dinosaurs lived.
Other evidence of dinosaurs in the region includes the 1989 discovery of hundreds of Triassic Period tracks in Culpeper County.
Dinosaur tracks also have been found in Danville and Loudoun County.

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