Huge Dinosaurs Footprints discovered on Scottish Coast

Huge Dinosaurs Footprints discovered on Scottish Coast

Dinosaur footprint. Credit: wikimedia

Fossils of Sauropods and Theropods from the Middle Jurassic Period found on the Isle of Skye.

It is a common perception that dinosaurs ruled over the world millions of years ago before an asteroid wiped them from the face of the Earth. The amount of research work done in this context is extremely vast and a lot of details are available about the largest animal on the planet. Researchers have found traces of their fossils in different parts of the world and the latest addition to this list is the Scottish Coast. Footprints belonging to the early Sauropods have been extracted from the muddy lagoon of the Isle of Skye. According to the early reports, these tracks will prove very beneficial in shedding light on the evolution of the Jurassic reptiles.

Nearly 170 million years ago, these 15 meters long beasts roamed on the ancient lagoons of Britain. This news spread viciously following a discovery of their footprints in Scotland. Signs of Theropods (cousins of Tyrannosaurus Rex) were also present there. Nowadays, the common attractions in this part of the world are red deer, puffins, and pine martens. This island has the reputation of being wave-pounded and windswept these days but it seems as if that was not the case millions of years ago.

The size of these footprints is so huge that you can easily consider them tidal pools if not for the marks of toes and fleshy heels. Michael Habib, a paleontologist from the University of Southern California, gave all the credit for hiding in the plain to the huge size of this creature. He said,

These tracks were sort of hiding in plain sight for years. It goes to show how sauropods are so much larger than everything else, that we field paleontologists are rarely looking for something of that scale at first.”

This is the 2nd occasion when a set of dinosaur footmarks is found on Skye which gives an impression that this island was a happening place in those times. The first discovery came forward in 2015. However, the latest findings are much older and that’s why they carry much more significance. According to geologists, any details about Middle Jurassic period are very hard to find and these footsteps will come in handy to determine some facts about that time. Dr. Steve Brusatte, who led the field team for this discovery described his experience in the following words.

The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find. This new site records two different types of dinosaurs – long-necked cousins of Brontosaurus and sharp-toothed cousins of T rex – hanging around a shallow lagoon, back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance.”

Researchers collected about 50 tracks from the dinosaurs that walked on the Earth during the Middle Jurassic. All the photography and analysis was done at Brother’s Point, a headland on Trotter Nish Peninsula of Skye. Tidal conditions were not feasible for examination of the prints and the challenging weather added to the difficulties but the members of the research team managed to identify two trackways alongside many isolated footprints. This discovery strengthens the belief of many scientists that Skye is a key region for finding details about that era. It also proves that many types of dinosaurs lived near water contrary to a general claim that they preferred land for their habitat.

One of Brusatte’s students, Paige dePolo, came across these tracks in 2016 and this instigated him to progress forward with this research. Drone and other camera equipment were used to make a map of the site. Other than that, images were taken through cameras. They were modeled later by using a software to get the clearest prints. The detailed examination of the presence of claws and the shape of toes was done on those prints.

A lot of importance is given to that time as it is considered a period where reptiles evolved. This research added more certainty to this claim as some of the footprints found in these lagoons belonged to another type of dinosaurs and guess what they were meat-eaters. Dr. Brusatte confirmed it as he said.

“It shows both long-necked and meat-eaters were on the same site at the same time living together, side-by-side.”

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