New dinosaur footprints discovered on Isle of Skye

New dinosaur footprints discovered on Isle of Skye

Dinosaur footprints have been found on the Isle of Skye (Stock image)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dozens of newly discovered giant dinosaur footprints on a Scottish island are helping to shed light on the Jurassic reptiles' evolution.

The 170 million-year-old tracks were made in a muddy lagoon off the north-east coast of what is now the Isle of Skye.

The majority of the prints were created by the "older cousins" of Tyrannosaurus Rex, called theropods, which stood at two metres tall, as well as similarly sized long-necked sauropods.

This is the second set of dinosaur footprints to be discovered on Skye, as the first was found in 2015.

These footprints are considered to be important across the world as they show rare evidence of the Middle Jurassic period, from which few fossil sites have been found around the world.

Researchers have measured, photographed and analysed around 50 footprints at Brothers' Point, Rubha nam Brathairean, a dramatic headland on Skye's Trotternish peninsula.

The largest sauropod footprint measures 70cm in width and the largest theropod footprint measures 50cm in width.

Scientists have also managed to identify two trackways in addition to many isolated footprints, despite tidal conditions making work difficult.

Drone photographs have been used to create a map of the site and other images have been collected with a paired set of cameras and tailored software to help model the prints.

Paige dePolo, who led the study, conducted the research while an inaugural student in the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences' research Master's degree programme in palaeontology and geobiology.

She said: "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."