Science

Scientists Discover Massive Dinosaur Footprints In Scotland

Massive Dinosaur Footprints
Image Credit: PAIGE DEPOLO

Teams of researchers work on uncovering as much evidence as they can find of dinosaurs that roamed our planet millions of years ago. Recently an international team of researchers uncovered massive dinosaur footprints on Skye, a Scottish island, and published their findings in the Scottish Journal of Geology. At the research site, there were several dinosaur footprints that go as far back as the Middle Jurassic era, a dark period that scientists haven’t discovered much about yet.

The footprints are massive and researchers found them on the north-east coast of Scotland’s Isle of Skye. Some of the massive dinosaur footprints resemble tidal pools. After searching the area for a while, they determined that the footprints belonged to dinosaurs that lived on Earth around 170-million years ago.

There were 50 footprints that they discovered. While some looked pretty close to one another, resembling trackways, there were several of them that were also isolated from the rest. Researchers decided to create a map of the whole geological site in 3D so that proper analysis could be conducted. Since the location of the footprints was quite peculiar, researchers faced various difficulties while taking photos. Also, high tides resulted in flooding the tracks which changed the initial landscape of the site constantly. However, researchers successfully mapped the site after using drone-integrated cameras, followed by other high-quality tech.

According to the shape of the tracks, the orientation of the toes and the size of the claws, the team discovered that there were two animals that were leaving these massive dinosaur footprints across the site. Those two animals belonged to the Middle Jurassic era that lasted between 164 to 174 million years ago. During that time, long-necked Sauropods that could grow nearly 7-feet tall and three-toed theropods were roaming the Earth.

The team believes that the site used to be a muddy lagoon that belonged to a Scotland that was much warmer than we know it now, which is how dinosaurs left the footprints there. Also, it is believed that the site was widely populated by animals during that time, when dinosaurs moved across different parts of the world.

This research would definitely help scientists understand more about the Middle Jurassic era, and particularly shed light on the evolution of the first birds and dinosaurs. However, there haven’t been many fossils that have been discovered by scientists up until that date. Nevertheless, this discovery which was a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Staffin Museum and Chinese Academy of Sciences could add new information about this era.

“This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye. It was found in rocks that were slightly older than those previously found at Duntulm on the island and demonstrates the presence of sauropods in this part of the world through a longer timescale than previously known,” lead study author Paige dePolo said in a statement. “This site is a useful building block for us to continue fleshing out a picture of what dinosaurs were like on Skye in the Middle Jurassic.”