Hundreds of dinosaur tracks and fossils estimated more than 120 million years old have been discovered during construction of a mining road in the highlands of Central Peru. Officials with the Antamina mining company announced the find last week.

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Photo: Compañía Minera Antamina S.A.
Dinosaur footprints discovered during road construction in Central Peru.

The discovery was originally made in 2006 during the construction of a road by the company between a crossroads at Conococha and the Antamina’s Yanacancha camp about 250 miles northeast of Lima.

A preliminary examination of the site - since dubbed Cruz Planta - uncovered dozens of footprints from a handful of animals. More detailed efforts by the Ornithology and Biodiversity Centre have since uncovered many more tracks. Most were found in a rocky wall-like formation more than 100 ft long.

Paleontologists uncovered the tracks of at least 12 different animals at Cruz Planta. The scientists estimate the footprints date to the early Cretaceous Period, about 120 million years ago. The tracks include those of bipedal carnivores of various sizes as well as both giant and small herbivores.

Other discoveries at the site include fossils of large marine reptiles including those of sauropterygians, ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs as well several extinct species of crocodiles.

Cruz Planta, at more than 15,000 ft above sea level, is the highest location dinosaur tracks have ever been discovered. Paleontologists say the location was once a muddy beach and its highland location is a result of Peru’s volatile geography.

The announcement follows a similar recent discovery in southern Argentina where the bones of a large herbivore estimated to be 85 million years old were uncovered during roadwork.

Last week, city workers in Neuqu�n, the capital of the southern province of the same name, found leg bones from a large animal believed to be Neuqu�nsaurus Australis — a type of large sauropod dinosaur.

Officials with the Museum of Chocon who monitored the discovery said it was doubtful the entire skeleton would be recovered but estimated the animal would have been about 46 feet long. Remains of other dinosaurs have been made during construction efforts in the city in the past.