Cal Orcko

Cal Orko, The Dinosaur Wall Of Bolivia…

On the outskirts of Sucre, a city in Bolivia, there’s a large cement plant. When the quarry it uses was being expanded, workers discovered a massive vertical wall of rock with thousands of dinosaur footprints. The site is called Cal Orcko, also spelled Cal Orko, and it´s the largest concentration of dinosaur tracks ever found anywhere in the world.


Cal Orko – The Dinosaur Wall Of Bolivia

More than 68 million years ago, dinosaurs by the thousands flocked to Cal Orko in search of food and water. The area was a lakeside eons ago. This explains the over 5,000 dinosaur tracks, laid in around 350 criss-cross trackways, on a crumbling wall. The most amazing thing about Cal Orko is it features footprints from 330 dinosaur species, from the Cretaceous, just before they went extinct.

Unfortunately, Cal Orko is in constant danger of crumbling and Bolivian authorities spend $30 million every year, to keep it in place. With all their efforts, part of the Dinosaur Wall has crumbled at the beginning of February, and with it about 300 footprints have been lost.

The slab of limestone is 1.2 km long and reaches up to 100 meters in height. The wall has more than 5,000 footprints, with 462 individual trails made by 330 dinosaur species during the second half of the Cretaceous period.

What used to be the shore of a lake attracted large number of herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs. The creatures’ feet sank into the soft shoreline in warm damp weather, leaving footprints that solidified during following dry spells. When wet weather returned it covered the footprints beneath a layer of mud and sediment. The wet-dry pattern was repeated seven times, preserving multiple layers of prints. Tectonic upheavals eons later pushed the flat ground upwards, creating the amazing vertical wall we see today.

Dinosaur footprints were first discovered in Cal Orcko by miners in 1985, but it was only between 1994 and 1998 that it’s importance was fully realized. This is when a scientific team lead by Swiss paleontologist Christian Meyer investigated the wall and certified the bed. According to Meyer, the discovery is an enormous contribution to humanity and to science, revealing data that was previously unknown, and “documenting the high diversity of dinosaurs better than any other site in the world”.

The study of the footprints provided information about the social behavior of dinosaurs. For example, it’s possible to observe two lines of big footprints, with small footprints between them indicating that some baby dinosaurs were being raised and protected by their parents. The most spectacular track is a 347 meters long line of footprints belonging to a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex, nicknamed “Johnny Walker” by researchers.

For the preservation of this site, a Cretaceous Park was opened in 2006 where there are exact replicas of the different species of dinosaurs that left their mark on the place, a museum and a viewing platform 150 meters from the rock face. From this vantage point visitors are able to grasp the sheer scale and magnitude of Cal Orko.

If you’ve visited Cal Orcko, please share your experience with other travelers by adding a review in the comment section below. Thank you!

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Vagabond Travel came into being April 16, 2014 when I departed Canada heading for Mexico City. I have no destination in mind, nor an itinerary to follow. This is a sort of website, journal and travel blog all rolled into one. That’s about it.

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