Rare prehistoric dinosaur footprints discovered in the UK have shed new light on the middle Jurassic period, according to a new report.
The study, published in the Scottish Journal of Geology on Monday, was carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who unearthed 50 new dinosaur footprints left 170 million years ago in the Isle of Skye, northwest of Scotland.
The footprints, found in a lagoon in Brother’s Point, are believed to have been made by two dinosaurs – a hefty long-necked sauropod and a sharp-toothed theropod, a cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The discovery is helping researchers paint a more accurate picture of how dinosaurs lived together during this period.
Steve Brusatte, a lead co-author in the study, explained to CNN that the new tracks were discovered by a student in 2016 during a trip to Skye.
“We regularly go there to hunt for dinosaur footprints and clues, when the tide went out we noticed them,” he said.
The research team used a drone to take photos and map out the site. They identified 50 footprints which resembled two lines of tracks, the report said.
One of the footprints was as big as a car tire, Brusatte said. It belonged to the sauropod, which researchers believe weighed more than 10 tons and was 15 meters (49 feet) in length.
The discovery of theropod footprints in the lagoon is a sign that the meat-eaters may have loitered around the lagoon when they were not on the hunt, according to Brusatte.
Brusatte said more trips to Skye were needed to further the understanding of the dinosaurs’ behavior during the mid-Jurassic period.
“Every new fossil is a clue about ancient history, we do need to be finding more and more of them for discoveries to be found,” he said.