50 huge dinosaur footprints from Middle Jurassic found in Scotland

Researchers have discovered a cache of massive dinosaur footprints in Scotland, ones that date back to the Mid-Jurassic period. About 50 footprints in total were found, each helping reveal information about that time period. Researchers with the University of Edinburgh say the discovery is very important due to the relative lack of Middle Jurassic period evidence.

The footprints were made in the soil about 170 million years ago by theropods and long-necked sauropods, according to researchers. At the time, that part of the land now known as the Isle of Skye would have been a shallow and muddy lagoon. The prints were found in the tidal area of a part of Skye's Brothers' Point.

Tidal conditions made it difficult for researchers to measure and study the prints, according to the University. Two trackways were ultimately identified, though many other footprints are isolated from them. Drones played an important role in helping map the region, and models of the prints were made using software.

Though not all of the prints are clear, some are able to provide ample detail for researchers, including the existence of claws, a clearly defined shape, toe orientation, and more. Scientists were able to use these details to determine which dinosaurs left the prints. A study of the site was published in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Staffin Museum.

Study lead Paige dePolo said:

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. 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.

SOURCE: University of Edinburgh