Paleontologists Discover an Epic “Dinosaur Coliseum” Hidden in the U.S.

A backpacker finds a dinosaur foot print in a creek bed. Denali National Park, Alaska.
© inEthos Design/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Geer

Published: August 17, 2023

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University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) scientists have described a remarkable snapshot of what was roaming Alaska around 70 million years ago. The scientists discovered and documented the largest known single dinosaur track site, dubbed “The Coliseum” in Alaska in the Denali National Park and Preserve

The rocky outcrop contains multiple layers of dinosaur prints preserved for millions of years. Revealing many different species via footprint, the prints are layered on each other, giving scientists insight into multiple generations of dinosaurs. The findings are described in a paper recently published in the scientific paleobiology journal, Historical Biology.

According to UAF scientists, “Based on the tracks, a variety of juvenile to adult dinosaurs frequented the area over thousands of years.”

How Big is the Site?

The tracks are located in a rocky outcrop, over 20 stories high spanning the length of one and a half football fields. Field investigations are limited because the area is so remote and vast. However, what has been revealed is stunning.

What Types of Dinosaur Tracks Were Discovered?

The braided channels of the Toklat river meanders through colorful Autumn foliage in Denali National Park, Alaska.

Inside Alaska’s Denali National Park sits the Dinosaur Coliseum, where tracks upon tracks tell a story of the past.

©Bryan Neuswanger/Shutterstock.com

Millions of years ago, where the Dinosaur Coliseum sits was a vast river network with connecting lakes and ponds. Back then, the weather would have been warmer, and the land was blanketed with lush forests and vegetation. The many preserved footprints also revealed the location was a hub for a variety of dinosaur species. 

How Long Were Dinosaurs on Earth

Although moose are the largest species in central Alaska today, millions of years ago, the massive Tyrannosaurs rex roamed the land.

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Some of the species roaming the area included: 

In addition to dinosaur tracks, scientists also uncovered ancient plant fossils, evidence of invertebrates, mollusks, and preserved pollen.

How Were the Tracks Formed?

The tracks were cast as the ancient beasts walked across the muddy terrain. They were then filled with sediment and hardened, which preserved them for millions of years. The land was flat when dinosaurs roamed the land. As Earth’s tectonic plates collided, they formed the Alaska Range. As the mountains formed, the flat earth folded and tilted, exposing millions of years of dinosaur footprints.

About Denali National Park and Preserve

Dall's sheep, Alaska

Dall’s sheep lives in the mountainous region of Denali National Park, Alaska.

©iStock.com/mlharing

Over 600,000 visitors come to Denali National Park and Preserve each year. Visitors to the park can view wildlife, and also explore the dinosaur tracks for themselves. Denali is a vast area, covering six million acres of wild land. 

Wild animals such as grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and Dall’s sheep roam here. The park is home to North America’s tallest mountain, Denali, also called Mount McKinley.


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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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