A team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh have discovered a string of giant Sauropod prints that could potentially prove dinosaurs inhabited Scottish lagoons up to 170 million years ago.

According to the team, these mammoth creatures, described as “hopelessly heavy”, used large pools to cool themselves off, conceal themselves from predators or to find food. Researchers also claim they may have utilised these pools to support their enormous weight.

The team stumbled upon the tracks in layers of rock at the depths of a saltwater lagoon. The quest to the Isle of Skye formed part of an attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Jurassic, herbivorous creatures.

“The new track site from Skye is one of the most remarkable dinosaur discoveries ever made in Scotland,” said Dr Steve Brusatte, professor at the university’s School of GeoSciences. “There are so many tracks crossing each other that it looks like a dinosaur disco preserved in stone.”

Tracks made by sauropod dinosaurs on Skye 170 million years ago
Image sourced from Culture24, via Steve Brusatte.

The Sauropod was a distant relative of early, more well-known species of dinosaur, like the Brontosaurus and Diplodocus. All that is left of them now are these colossal fossilised prints of up to 70cm in diameter, growing as much as 15m tall and weighing more than 10 tonnes.

“By following the tracks you can walk with these dinosaurs as they waded through a lagoon 170 million years ago, when Scotland was so much warmer than it is today,” said Brusatte.

Convex hyporelief tracks from the Duntulm Formation in Cairidh Ghlumaig
Image sources from Culture24, via Steve Brusatte.

Shark teeth and ancient cockles were also among the discovery, suggesting the tracks were created in a habitat of aquatic species.

“It’s exhilarating to make such a discovery and be able to study it in detail,” said Dr Tom Challands, a member of a research team who found close similarities between the prints on Skye and comparable prints found in Middle Jurassic Oxfordshire.

“But the best thing is this is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Challands, “I’m certain Skye will keep yielding great sites and specimens for years to come.”

Main image via Tadek Kurpaski.

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