LAS VEGAS – A professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, recently said he identified fossilized traces of a reptile along a popular route in the Grand Canyon National Park, a newspaper reported.
Professor Steve Rowland argued that the pieces belong to a primitive replica of the size of a baby alligator and date back about 315 million years, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Thursday.
The 28 traces cross diagonally along a boulder at the edge of the brilliant angel trail of the Grand Canyon.
Rowland shared his findings at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Palaeontology of Vertebrates in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He hopes to submit a scientific paper in January.
He first saw fingerprints last year during a family holiday and said "it turned out to be extraordinary." He said he heard of them from another geologist who saw them during a 2016 tour.
Scientists will never know exactly what kind of animal has left the tracks, said Rowland, adding that he foresees a similar lizard about 2 meters (0.6 meters) in length, similar to a galapagos iguana.
He said he spoke with park officials about what to do with the fingerprint boulder and would like to see that he moved from the canyon and added to a museum.
"More than likely, this will not happen," said park spokesman Kari Cobb.
She said that removing the rock and displaying it elsewhere does not align with the mission of the National Resource Conservation Service Service in their natural state.
"But we can put an interpretive sign to tell people what they are looking at," Cobb said.