Dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford just made a thrilling discovery. He found what he and others believe is a dinosaur footprint on NASA's Greenbelt campus. He identified it as that of a nodosaur.
Nodosaurs were among the most common dinosaurs in Maryland. They ate plants and their feet were about as big as an elephant's. Stanford has found their fossils in the area before as well as remnants of 20 other different dinosaur species.
"It's a pretty wonderful experience to come across something that's 112 million years old, that no one has ever seen," Stanford says. "I've compared nodosaurs to a tank on four feet. They were really heavy and large, and really well armored like a tank."
NASA's Alan Binstock says the agency also believes the footprint is real, though it will bring in its own experts to confirm it and search for more. He says NASA hasn't to his knowledge found any other tracks on its campuses.
People did not want to disclose the exact location of the print but they did say it was found in plain sight, in an area they walk by all the time. They just didn't know what to look for.
"I love the idea of a dinosaur being found on a place that's looking out to deep space for life," Binstock says.
In the future, they plan to preserve the footprint and make it part of their informational tour. Meanwhile, Stanford says finds like this help put things in perspective.
"It teaches us for one thing that things come and go, and brings to mind that we may one day be fossils too," Stanford says. "It helps us understand how we came to where we are, and it may give us the ability to contemplate the future and take better care of ourselves."