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Seaside dinosaurs

  Theropods - meat-eating dinosaurs that walked on their hind legs - once preyed on small animals near Wyoming's prehistoric Sundance Sea. To his surprise, geologist Erik Kvale found the dinosaur tracks preserved in fossilized mud along the BLM's Red Gulch/Alkali National Back Country Byway near Shell, Wyo. While exploring the rippled sandstones last summer, Kvale's relatives asked him if there could have been dinosaurs there in the past. He responded, "No ... but here is one right in front of me." Before his discovery, scientists believed the entire basin was under the Sundance Sea 165 million years ago. The presence of the fossilized prints indicates that a land mass large enough to sustain a diversity of dinosaurs must have jutted up from the water. Consequently, the 40 acres of preserved prints are making scientists reconsider what dinosaurs and flora existed during the Middle Jurassic period. For information and directions to the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite, call the Cheyenne BLM office at 307/775-6014.