In dialogue with Santiago Jimenez

1988/10/01 Martinez Lizarduikoa, Alfontso Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Santiago Jiménez García is a delegate of the Department of Mineralogy and Paleontology of Iberduero. He has a great fondness for dinosaurs that spread across the Earth 150 million years ago and has done important research on the iknitas (fossil footprints) found in La Rioja.
– How did you start studying dinosaurs?

At the site of Valdeté, in Préjano, exploring the footsteps of Santiago Jiménez.

– My grandfather (of my mother) taught me the deposits of fossil footprints. My grandfather was a farmer and a pastor (who knew very well the territory in which we made the discoveries) and thanks to him I knew the footprints of the dinosaurs.

– And from a paleontological point of view, when did this topic begin to work?

– Paleontological work has to do directly with the company. In 1975 the Mineralogy and Paleontology Section was created, and now I am a delegate of it. I have had the necessary help to carry out the field work and thanks to this we have been able to protect the site of Enciso (1976). We are now doing the same at the Cornago site.

– Where have you mainly done your field work?

– In the last four years we have been able to explore Préjano, Ambos Aguas, Muro de Aguas, Valdeperillo, Cornago, Igea, Las Casas, Grávalos and part of the Sierra de Alfaro. We have found the footprints of the Teropods and Ortopods, especially of the Megalosaurs and Iguanodone.

– And in those years what has been your fundamental work?

– Track location and deposit protection. In addition, we have organized exhibitions with shoe molds.

– Are you studying the life of 100 million years ago individually or do you have collaborators?

– Possible groups for field work are numerous, but infrastructure and systematic work are more complicated problems so responsibility depends on fewer people. But I'm not alone. Not much less! Since 1975 I have advice and support from the Autonomous University of Madrid and the University of Salamanca.

– Why do you think the footsteps of the dinosaurs found in La Rioja originated?

– In that place of Nerea there was room to drink on the bank of the river or swamp. There they drank the dinosaurs, or there they would be. Their tracks were marked in plastic mud and filled, compacted and hardened. Later, the orogenic forces allowed them to go upstream and reach their current state.

– How did these giant reptiles live?

– Analyzing the tracks, the fossils of their strata and the pests of the waves (also fossilized), we can say that they lived in extensive swamp plains, dominated by deltas and estuaries that the sea periodically flooded. In addition, they had a temperate climate and abundant vegetation.

– And now what is your most important field?

Iknitak Prejano of Iguanodona. Local pastors have known them for a long time.

– Above all we protect the deposits with metallic barriers, covering them to avoid erosions, diverting the waters, opening the accesses to the deposit.

– Are your works published in scientific journals?

– In 1987 a dissertation on footsteps was read at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Right now we have four works prepared for publication, one of them will be presented in September in the United States. In addition, J.J. Mr. Moratalla has very advanced his doctoral thesis on the technological aspect of La Rioja. This thesis includes most of the work done to date.

– And what plans do you have for the future?

– We want to analyze the incidence of climate change, age of strata, identification of animal and plant species, fauna, flora and geographical conditions of this territory in the Mesozoic, etc.

– I think you are also concerned about the dissemination of your rural work. What do you do in this area?

– Maybe our most interesting work is the exhibition we do village by village. In addition to showing the fossils, we offer talks and video-projections with the great reptiles of the Mesozoic.

– And in relation to iknitas deposits, what is your short-term goal?

– My intention is to raise the paleoichnological deposits of La Rioja to its world level. The International Symposium on Dinosaurs will be held in 1989 in Baja Rioja. From exile we hope to have scientists of recognized prestige.