Dozens of rare dinosaur prints found on Scotland's Isle of Skye

SWNS    
     SCOTLAND The tracks found in a muddy marsh needed drones and modelling software to examine

Dr Steve Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the field team, said: "The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find".

In April 2016, researchers Davide Foffa and Hong-Yu Yi stumbled across the new footprints at a site called Rubha nam Brathairean, or Brother's Point.

After searching the area for a while, they determined that the footprints belonged to dinosaurs that lived on Earth around 170-million years ago.

"The site preserves an abundance of small sauropod manus and pes prints and several isolated and broken medium-to-large tridactyl footprints", the scientists published Monday in their corresponding article to their study in the Scottish Journal of Geology. "[There were] only footprints, no handprints: this was a dinosaur just walking on its hind legs", he added, saying the creature would have weighed about a tonne and was around five or six metres in length.

Ms dePolo said: "This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye". Not much is known about the Middle Jurassic-a period between 174 million to 163 million years ago-because fossils from the era are relatively rare.

In an interview with National Geographic's Greshko, Brusatte explains that the Middle Jurassic was an important period in dinosaurs' evolutionary history-a time when "the first birds took to the sky, the first tyrannosaurs were evolving, [and] the first really colossal sauropods were getting their start".

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For archaeologists, this is an important discovery: in fact, fossils dating from the middle of the Jurassic period are rare, and archaeological sites of importance are few to have been discovered in the world.

In the two years since the discovery, researchers have photographed and studied some 50 new footprints. "T$3 he dinosaur that fits the bill is a sauropod-one of these long-necked, pot bellied, brontosaurus-type dinosaurs", Brusatte tells Davis.

Tidal conditions made study of the precious finds extremely hard, leading scientists to employ the use of drones and modelling software to enhance their work.

The species involved were identified from the clearest examples available, which revealed the shape and orientation of claws and the presence of claws. These prints were fossilized thanks to the lagoon's "low-energy environment", said study lead researcher Paige dePolo, a master's student of paleontology and geobiology at the University of Edinburgh. The oldest dinosaur fossil discovery in the United Kingdom is thought to have been of a 200-million-old Tyrannosaurus Rex relative, the Dracoraptor hanigani, found on a Welsh beach in 2016.

The researchers used drone photographs to make a map of the site.

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