Death Valley To Unveil The ‘Secrets’ Of A Secret Canyon To Public

First Posted: Dec 02, 2016 03:25 AM EST

A remote canyon in Death Valley kept off limits from the public for nearly eight decades is finally going to be accessible to the general crowd, according to a report.

According to Mail Online, the area is home to one of the most diverse and biggest collections of fossilized animal tracks, which was shut to the public to preserve the same.

Also called 'The Barnyard,' the remote region located between the borders of Nevada and California is a treasure trove of fossil tracks left by ancient mastodons, tapirs, big cats, horses, camels and even birds, the oldest of which goes back to a whopping 5 million years -- providing a glance into Death Valley's ecology during the Pliocene Epoch. The ancient tracks range in size from about 1 inch to 15 inches in length and can be seen lining an area of about 5 square miles near the shores of a lake, a location popular for migrating birds and animals.

The exact location of The Barnyard has, however, not been divulged, and the area has been kept off limits since 1940. "This canyon is as good as it gets - there are fossil tracks almost everywhere you look," said paleontologist Torrey Nyborg to the Los Angeles Times. "This canyon has been in the dark too long; I want to see it unveiled to the world."

Incidentally, the ancient footprints took four years to catalog using high-definition cameras and GPS coordinates. Nyborg is working with the National Park Service to preserve the fossilized tracks from the adversities of the elements as well as hampering effects of vandalism.

The Portland Press Herald reported that in the past, thieves have actually stolen fossil tracks by hacking them off with chisels. At the moment, only about 100 visitors are allowed to enter the area annually and they are required to have a permit and be accompanied by an official. 

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