A group of palaeontologists have discovered what they believe could be the world’s largest dinosaur footprints to date.
Scientists from the University of Queensland and James Cook University have identified what they describe as “an unprecedented 21 different types of dinosaur tracks” in Australia.
Some of those footprints measure a whopping 1.7 metres long. They were uncovered in the remote Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia.
The discovery comes after a footprint measuring 106 centimetres in length was found in Mongolia last year. At that time, it was believed to be among the biggest ever recorded.
The tracks were found on a 25-kilometre stretch of the Dampier Peninsula coastline north of Broome, which has been dubbed “Australia’s Jurassic Park”.
“There were five different types of predatory dinosaur tracks, at least six types of tracks from long-necked herbivorous sauropods, four types of tracks from two-legged herbivorous ornithopods and six types of tracks from armoured dinosaurs,” lead researcher Dr Steve Salisbury said.
“Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded. Some of the sauropod tracks are around 1.7m long.
“Most of Australia’s dinosaur fossils come from the eastern side of the continent, and are between 115 and 90 million years old. The tracks in Broome are considerably older.”
He told ABC news that a footprint measuring 1.7 metres would indicate animals that are “probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip, which is enormous.”
Dr Salisbury added this latest discovery could provide an insight into the creatures that roamed the Australian subcontinent during the Early Cretaceous Period.
“It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half of the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia’s dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period,” he said.
The research is published as the 2016 Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.