Science & Technology

50 Newly Identified Footprints Show Stegosaurs Left Their Mark on Scottish Isle of Skye

Artist’s impression of dinosaurs on prehistoric mudflat. Credit score: Jon Hoad

They’re among the many most recognizable dinosaurs … now paleontologists have found that stegosaurs left an enduring impression on a Scottish island.

Round 50 newly recognized footprints on the Isle of Skye have helped scientists affirm that stegosaurs — with their distinctive diamond-shaped again plates — roamed there round 170 million years in the past.

The location on the island’s north-east coast — which was on the time a mudflat on the sting of a shallow lagoon on a long-lost island within the Atlantic — comprises a mix of footprints, and divulges that dinosaurs on Skye had been extra various than beforehand thought.

Fossil tracks left by a stegosaur on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Credit score: Steve Brusatte

A workforce of paleontologists from the College of Edinburgh found a brief sequence of distinctive, oval footprints and handprints belonging to a stegosaur, left by a younger animal or a small-bodied member of the stegosaur household because it ambled throughout the mudflat.

The invention implies that the location at Brothers’ Level — referred to as Rubha nam Brathairean in Gaelic — is now acknowledged as one of the oldest-known fossil information of this main dinosaur group discovered wherever on this planet. Massive stegosaurs may develop to nearly 30 toes lengthy and weigh greater than six tonnes.

Skye is one of the few locations on this planet the place fossils from the Center Jurassic interval might be discovered. Discoveries on the island have offered scientists with important clues concerning the early evolution of main dinosaur teams, together with large, long-necked sauropods and fierce, meat-eating cousins of Tyrannosaurus rex.

The examine, revealed within the journal PLOS ONE, was supported by a grant from the Nationwide Geographic Society. It additionally concerned scientists from Nationwide Museums Scotland, College of Glasgow, Federal College of Rio de Janeiro, and the Staffin Museum on the Isle of Skye.

Paige dePolo, a Ph.D. scholar on the College of Edinburgh’s College of GeoSciences, who led the examine, mentioned: “These new tracksites assist us get a greater sense of the variability of dinosaurs that lived close to the coast of Skye in the course of the Center Jurassic than what we will glean from the island’s physique fossil file. Specifically, Deltapodus tracks give good proof that stegosaurs lived on Skye presently.”

Dr Steve Brusatte and Paige dePolo with fossil dinosaur tracks on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Credit score: Steve Brusatte

Dr. Steve Brusatte, additionally of the College of GeoSciences, who was concerned within the examine and led the sphere workforce, mentioned: “Our findings give us a a lot clearer image of the dinosaurs that lived in Scotland 170 million years in the past. We knew there have been large long-necked sauropods and jeep-sized carnivores, however we will now add plate-backed stegosaurs to that roster, and perhaps even primitive cousins of the duck-billed dinosaurs too. These discoveries are making Skye one of one of the best locations on this planet for understanding dinosaur evolution within the Center Jurassic.”

Reference: “Novel observe morphotypes from new tracksites point out elevated Center Jurassic dinosaur variety on the Isle of Skye, Scotland” by Paige E. dePolo, Stephen L. Brusatte, Thomas J. Challands, Davide Foffa, Mark Wilkinson, Neil D. L. Clark, Jon Hoad, Paulo Victor Luiz Gomes da Costa Pereira, Dugald A. Ross and Thomas J. Wade, 11 March 2020, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229640

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