I'm excited to continue with our tale of Cretaceous tracks in South Korea! September 15 was our day to check out the coastal dinosaur track sites in Sangjogam County Park, a heritage site. This was a track site that Dr. Richard McCrea had visited back in 2000 on his first trip to South Korea. He said to me "I did not expect that I would ever get a chance to visit this site again."
A LOT had changed since Rich's visit in 2000. At that time the area was newly discovered and in the process of being documented. Let's just say, the progress made on the site was impressive!
After breakfasting and grabbing some Starbucks (science runs on caffeine all over the world), we drove to the parking area next to the coastline. We were immediately greeted by a great sauropod sculpture surveying the gorgeous shoreline.
|"I am Lord/Lady of all I survey!" said every sauropod everywhere.|
|Getting ready leave the walkway to stroll along the beach to see the sauropod tracks.|
|One of these days, I'll be able to afford a decent lens for photographing birds. September 15 was not that day. Neither is today, actually.|
|The sand is damp enough that the webbing impressions are preserved. We can clearly see the claw impressions and occasional toe impressions.|
Of course, I couldn't spend all day on the beach taking pictures of modern footprints (although this would be a worthy ichnology project.) We made our way over to the Goseong Track Site.
|Goseong Dinosaur Track Site in Sangjogam County Park. Drs. Kim Kyung-soo (left) and Richard McCrea (right) taking initial observation notes.|
|The circled areas are the sauropod tracks. Scalebar in the picture is 10 cm.|
|Close-up of the sauropod tracks with a 10 cm scale (and my feet) for scale.|
|Drs. Martin Lockley and Richard McCrea somewhere in the middle of the tour group!|
With coastal rock exposures, particularly those that are periodically covered by tides, we don't expect that tracks will "last" that long. Tides are powerful, running sand and shells over track surfaces. They also form tidal ecosystems: it's not uncommon to see dinosaur footprints doubling as tidepools. Given that tidal-influenced areas are generally high-energy, I was not expecting to see bird tracks at this site. I moved a little farther away from the shoreline to check out some fine-grained surfaces. I was not disappointed!
|They are shallow, but there are small bird tracks!|
The Goseong Track Site was impressive for another reason: the level of resources and development that went into making the site accessible to the public. When I show these images, remember that only 17 years prior this area didn't have the track sites developed or a dinosaur museum built.
First, there are the extensive walkways built along the coastline so that people can look over the track surface. There are several kilometers of these walkways! At key points along the walkways are informative signs that direct visitors' attention to key geologic and paleontologic views.
Editorial Note: OK, friends, I need to go on a bit of a rant. Look at this sign. It gives out science information without talking down to the reader. Do you see any cheap, lazy Jurassic Park-themed lettering? Any sensationalized attempts to use giant waves in "storytelling"? You do not. I did not see ANY sign of the North American-style insulting "tourism marketing" in South Korea. This is because the organizations that made these signs actually respect the intelligence of the people who are visiting natural history sites. They don't assume that there is "too much science" in the information provided, or that the public needs to be "talked down to." Each time I see a fossil heritage site that blatantly uses Jurassic Park imagery and/or sensationalized "stories" to interpret a site, I assume the organization that created those signs does not respect their visitors OR the fossil heritage they exploit. Respect for fossil heritage or those interested in natural history isn't even on the radar for those particular organisations: fossils are merely a thing to selfishly use, and the public are just their dupes with wallets. It makes me feel angry and ill. Oh, and the fact that, since Rich's 2000 visit, a museum and outdoor interpretive sites had been fully developed? It is extremely frustrating to see the slow progress of getting similar dinosaur track sites developed in North America. We've been in the Peace Region full-time since 2004 and we still struggle year-to-year to have fossil heritage conservation funded.
We hiked up to another track site that was not yet interpreted: one of the aspects of coastal geology is that it changes a lot, with new rock surfaces constantly being exposed. Rocky cliffs are also a tricky place to do ichnology, mostly because of the ever-present threat of those tracks using gravity to make face-time with you. Here are some bird tracks exposed on the underside of a rock exposure. We couldn't get a close-up view of them, but we could tell they were the ichnogenus Jindongornipes.
|The preservation of these large bird tracks (Jindongornipes) is amazing! We can even see webbing impressions!|
|Rich attempting photogrammetry on the Jindongornipes tracks. It becomes more tricky when you can't get something for scale on to the track surface.|
|The boardwalk trail joins up to the Goseong Dinosaur Museum outdoor trails.|
|Um, friends? There's a Utahraptor watching you!|
The Goseong Dinosaur Museum also had some fun with their outdoor displays. I love this cartoon bird pointing out the names of the bird tracks.
Goseong Dinosaur Museum curator at the museum's cafe, and were treated to a wonderful beverage: quince tea that the curator made! We found out the recipe, but darn it! We can't seem to find quince anywhere in grocery stores. The hunt continues!
After lunch we spent some time in the collections facility of the Goseong Dinosaur Museum, collecting data, photogrammetry images, and track slab tracings.
|Dr. Martin Lockley making a plastic sheet tracing of a bird track slab.|
|Sometimes you meet the local fauna when you work on tracks. Here's a wolf spider, who was not impressed when I disturbed its cozy hideout. It was ceremoniously moved outside.|
|One of the many bird track slabs in the Goseong Dinosaur Museum collections.|
|Drs. Martin Lockley (left) and Richard McCrea (right). If you like groaner-puns, these are the two to go into the field with.|
|The Broken Bone Restaurant.|
The next day we were scheduled to give public talks on our work in Canada and South Korea at the Goseong Public Library! Tune in next week to find out how our talks went!