Fantastic fossil footprints found in Australia

Fantastic fossil footprints found in Australia
Dinosaur tracks in the Walmadany area
Dinosaur tracks in the Walmadany area
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Dinosaur tracks in the Walmadany area
Dinosaur tracks in the Walmadany area

Where are there fossilized footprints from more types of dinosaurs than anyplace else in the world? Well, that would be the Dampier Peninsula, in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Nicknamed "Australia's Jurassic Park," a 25-km (15.5-mile) stretch of the coastline contains tracks from 21 different types of dinosaurs, embedded in 127 to 140 million-year-old rock.

The finding was recently announced by a team of palaeontologists from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, and James Cook University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Around a part of the peninsula known as Walmadany (James Price Point), thousands of tracks were documented after five years of investigation – this included the use of drones, for performing aerial mapping. One hundred and fifty of the tracks were identifiable as being made by 21 separate species of dinosaurs.

"There were five different types of predatory dinosaur tracks, at least six types of tracks from long-necked herbivorous sauropods, four types of tracks from two-legged herbivorous ornithopods, and six types of tracks from armoured dinosaurs," says U Queensland's Dr. Steve Salisbury, lead author of a paper on the research. "Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded. Some of the sauropod tracks are around 1.7 m [5.6 ft] long."

The scientists were first alerted to the tracks several years ago by the Goolarabooloo people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the area – the tracks are part of the peoples' ancient mythology, which states that they are the footprints of a Dreamtime creator being called Marala, the Emu man.

In 2008, the area was threatened by the potential development of a liquid natural gas processing plant, hence the Goolarabooloo's concern that the tracks be studied and protected. That project was called off in 2013, however, after the Walmadany region received National Heritage certification in 2011. So, for now, the area is safe.

"It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period," says Salisbury.

There's more information in the following video.

Source: The University of Queensland

'Australia's Jurassic Park' the world's most diverse

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