The giant dinosaur footprint found in Yorkshire measures nearly a meter in length.
A single footprint can tell a story. A long time ago in the Jurassic era, around 166 million years ago, a jumbo meat-eating dinosaur strolled across what is now modern-day Yorkshire in England. At one point, it perhaps squatted down and then stood back up, leaving behind a truly epic footprint.
A team of researchers published a paper on the footprint in the Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society on Thursday. The three-toed print measures in at 31 inches (80 centimeters) long. It’s the largest of its kind ever found in Yorkshire. The owner of the foot was a carnivorous theropod, of which T. rex is a famous example.
An artist’s illustration shows what the theropod might have looked like when it left its footprint.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at, I had to do a double take,” archaeologist Marie Woods said in a University of Manchester statement. “I have seen a few smaller prints when out with friends, but nothing like this.” Woods, who spotted the fossil by chance, is a co-author of the study.
The footprint is a rare find in Yorkshire, with only six similar prints found in the area. An analysis of the print suggests the dinosaur was a type of megalosaurus, a large meat-eater known to prowl England during the Jurassic. It may have had a hip height as tall as 10 feet (3 meters).
Study co-author Dean Lomax of the University of Manchester said an analysis of the footprint’s angle, shape and claw impressions shows the dinosaur may have been squatting down before standing up. A single print makes it hard to know for sure just what the dino was doing. “It’s fun to think this dinosaur might well have been strolling along a muddy coastal plain one lazy Sunday afternoon in the Jurassic,” Lomax said.
The footprint was in danger of damage from erosion or tidal action, so experts collected it and transported it to Scarborough Museum and Galleries in the UK, where it’s expected to go on public display once conservation work is completed. Talk about one giant step … for a dinosaur.