Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two footprints

As you have likely heard, American astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) - the 1st man to walk on Earth's moon - died yesterday at the age of 82. It was on July 20, 1969, that Armstrong and fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin made footprints in the dust while 3rd crew member Michael Collins remained in the lunar module. Those footprints are still there and will remain, since there is no wind to blow them away. Compare one of those (2nd image) to the 110-million-year-old footprint left in the mud by a bulky but quick-moving nodosaur (1st image). Then note the irony of the location at which this leaf-eating dinosaur left its mark: "Space scientists may walk along here, and they're walking exactly where this big, bungling heavy armored dinosaur walked." You read that right. It was recently spotted at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland! The discovery in plain sight was made by amateur dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford and confirmed by USGS emeritus paleontologist Rob Weem (more photos here, video here). Of the 14" wide track, beside a path any of the campus's 7,000 employees may have walked, Stanford says, "It is sheer poetry. It is because of the juxtaposition that evokes so much interest."
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