National Heritage Places - Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, Lark Quarry

Queensland

Overview

Located at Lark Quarry Conservation Park in Central Queensland, the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument features unique evidence of a dinosaur stampede with almost 4,000 dinosaur footprints clearly visible in an area of 210 square metres.

Visit the site's interpretation centre to see and learn about this fascinating history.

The Dinosaur Stampede National Monument was included in the National Heritage List on 20 July 2004.

Gallery

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 Jaime Rankin  Jaime Rankin  Jonas Rupp Lark Quarry Environmental Park  Jonas Rupp

More information

About 95 million years ago in central Queensland, several moments of frantic activity were preserved in stone.

Scientists have interpreted that the footprints are a fossilised record of a predator stalking and causing a chaotic stampede of around 150 two-legged dinosaurs.

The footprints and their interpretation informed the famous stampede scenes in Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park and the BBC's award-winning series Walking with Dinosaurs (1999).

The hunter and the hunted

A mixed group of perhaps 180 chicken-sized carnivorous theropods known as Coelurosaurs (Skartopus) and Bantam to emu-sized herbivorous ornithopods (Wintonopus) were disturbed by the arrival of a single much larger carnivore - a theropod named Tyrannosauropus, which may have been up to 10 metres long with 50-centimetre feet.

Fleeing the larger dinosaur, Skartopus and Wintonopus are thought to have stampeded past Tyrannosauropus, leaving thousands of footprints in the surrounding mudflat.

Preservation of the footprints

Not long after the incident, the water level began to rise, covering the tracks with sandy sediments before the mud had dried.

Over time, the footprints were buried beneath sand and mud as the lake and river levels continued to rise and fall. Over thousands of millennia, this rich river plain with its sandy channels, swamps and lush lowland forest dried up. The sediment covering the footprints was compressed to form rock.

Today, Lark Quarry is a dry landscape of spinifex and lancewood dotted across gullies and steep escarpments.

Uncovering dinosaur tracks

In the 1960s while fossicking for opals, a local station manager, Glen Seymour, discovered what he thought were fossilised bird tracks, but it wasn't until scientists visited the area in 1971 that the footprints began to reveal their true story.

It is a rare snapshot of a few seconds of activity during the age of the dinosaurs preserved probably for 95 million years, which has become the benchmark for study of dinosaur footprints and behaviour. The arid setting, where we find these sediments that reveal lowland riparian forests of the past, records thousands of millennia of landscape evolution in Australia.

Experience the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument

Located at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, 110 kilometres south-west of Winton in central Queensland, this outstanding site is covered by a modern centre, which was completed in 2002 as a Centenary of Federation project.

The new building protects the main collection of footprints from damage by stabilising temperature and humidity fluctuations, stopping water running over the footprints and keeping people and wildlife off the footprints themselves.

Management of the Dinosaur Stampede Monument is shared by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency and Winton Shire Council.

Relevant links

Australia's National Heritage - Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, Lark Quarry (PDF - 618.19 KB)