The Lark Quarry located near the town of Winton in Queensland (Australia) is the site of one of the most important collection of dinosaur tracks discovered to date. When these tracks were first studied by Dr. Tony Thulborn and his colleague Mary Wade and their work published in 1984, the footprints caused a sensation as the different trackways were interpreted as herd of smaller Ornithopod dinosaurs in the company of some Coelurosaurs stampeding after they were cornered by a lumbering giant Theropod dinosaur.
Important Trace Fossil Site in Australia
Ichnologists (scientists who study trace fossils, especially footprints), assigned the name Wintonopus to the small, Ornithopods, Skartopus to the larger Coelurosaurs and the eleven prints believed to explain the large, predatory Theropod attempting the ambush were assigned to Tyrannosauropus. However, a fresh paper published in the academic publication “The Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology” interprets the tracks really different way. Lead author, Queensland palaeontologist Anthony Romilio presents evidence to suggest that these footprints are not proof of a dinosaur ambush with a resulting stampede but the tracks produced by dinosaurs while they forded a river. In place of “Walking with Dinosaurs”, this new research suggests a situation of “Swimming as well as Wading with Dinosaurs”!
Cretaceous Dinosaur Trackways
The footprints are believed up to now from around 95 million years ago approximately (Albian to Cenomanian faunal stages), the strata that the footprints were discovered in does represent fluvial deposits (river sediments), however, this new interpretation proposes that the tracks were produced by dinosaurs whilst in the water and not on the river bank. Walking along a river bed, especially one where in fact the water could have been no more than forty centimetres deep could have made sense if the banks were heavily vegetated, progress through dense scrub and forests would have been much slower if the dinosaurs had chosen a land route.
The Queensland palaeontologist stated that many of the footprints and impressions produced by the dinosaurs were simply scratches or elongated grooves preserved in the rock. These could possibly be interpretated as marks produced by the dinosaurs while they punted or waded across the river bed. what dinosaur has 500 teeth Some of the more unusual tracks could represent “tippy-toe” traces, where an animal made deep, nearly vertical impressions into the soft river bed with its clawed toes while they propelled themselves through your body of water.
In the paper, the scientist argues that it’s difficult to see how the tracks has been produced by an animal walking or running on land, even one panicked by an ambush from a predator. If the tracks had been made on land the impressions made would have been much flatter.
Not the First Exemplory instance of a Swimming Dinosaur Found to Date
Fossilised footprints of a swimming dinosaur have been present in the past. There is a critical single dinosaur trackway discovered in Spain that seems to exhibit a tri-dactyl, Theropod dinosaur touching underneath of a river occasionally because it swam across it. The sediments preserve the claw marks and impressions produced by the dinosaur at it touched the lake bed and pushed itself off again to keep its journey.
Very Important Scientific Site in Queensland
The Lark Quarry site represents one of the most important sets of dinosaur footprints proven to science. More than 3,000 individual prints have been identified so far. A number of the tracks, including the “dinosaur stampede/river crossing site” are on public display.
Modern Technology Used to Assess Ancient Trackways
Using three-dimensional footprint mapping techniques, the University of Queensland scientist has already provided numerous new insights into the dinosaur tracks of Lark Quarry. In 2010, Anthony Romilio published a scientific paper that suggested that the footprints assigned to the meat-eater Tyrannosauropus were actually produced by a sizable, herbivorous Ornithopod, a dinosaur just like Muttaburrasaurus for example.
Commenting on the newly published research and reflecting on the sooner work suggesting that the large dinosaur tracks weren’t produced by a predator, Anthony stated that taken altogether, the investigation suggested that the Lark Quarry sediments did not portray a dinosaur stampede.
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