World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Western Oz

A “globally unparalleled” collection of dinosaur footprints has been found on the coastline near Broome in Western Australia, including prints from Sauropods that are the world’s largest.

 

Paleontologists from The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences and James Cook University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences unearthed 21 different types of dinosaur tracks in Walmadany, the name given to the area by its traditional inhabitants. Some of the prints from Sauropods were a staggering 1.7 metres long.

 

The tracks are also considerably older than most of the fossils discovered in Eastern Australia, with those fossils believed to be between 90 and 115 million years old. These findings have been published as the 2016 Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

 

University of Queensland paleontologist and lead author of the study Dr. Steve Salisbury told The Telegraph that 21 different prehistoric species living in such close proximity is very unusual and represents the most diverse discovery of its kind in the world.

 

“Nowhere else has as many different types of dinosaurs represented by tracks than Walmadany has,” Salisbury said. “It’s such a magical place, Australia’s own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting. It’s the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti. And it’s written in stone.”

 

As for the 1.7 metre footprint, Salisbury says the track would have belonged to a dinosaur “probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip, which is enormous.”

 
The fact the tracks were found at Walmadany was significant, considering that in 2008 the Western Australian government nearly turned the site into a massive liquid natural gas processing precinct. Luckily, the area was awarded National Heritage status in 2011, and it has benefited from this protection to provide us with one of the great paleontological discoveries of recent times.