Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered a dinosaur’s footprint that is over three-feet long belonging to a meat-eating tridactyl.
The theropod’s footprint is believed to be 166 million years old, dating back to the Jurassic period. The footprints were discovered in the Yorkshire region of the United Kingdom.
The footprints were found in April 2021 by archeologist Mary Woods. The university said Woods contacted fossil experts, who were stunned by the discovery.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at, I had to do a double take. I have seen a few smaller prints when out with friends, but nothing like this. I can no longer say that ‘archaeologists don’t do dinosaurs,’” Woods said. “At the time of the discovery, it generated a lot of public interest and I was overwhelmed with the messages on social media from people around the globe.”
Scientists believe the dinosaur was crouched when the footprint was taken.
“This is a wonderful find. Not only does this specimen represent the largest theropod footprint found in Yorkshire, but by studying the angle of the footprint, its shape, and the impressions of the claws, the fossil provides insights into the behavior of this individual from around 166 million years ago,” said Dean Lomax, school of earth, atmospheric and environmental sciences researcher at the University of Manchester. “In fact, features of the footprint may even suggest that this large predator was squatting down before standing up.”
According to the United Kingdom’s Natural History Museum, dinosaur footprints are formed in the same way human footprints do when walking on soft ground like mud.
If exposed long enough to the sun, the footprint can then harden, turning into a fossil.