Discovered; Footprints of the very last Dinosaurs to walk on UK ground

WION Web Team
Kent, United KingdomEdited By: Moohita Kaur GargUpdated: Jun 19, 2021, 11:27 PM IST
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Discovered in the cliffs and on the foreshore in Folkestone, Kent, these footprints are believed to belong to at least six different species of dinosaurs

Researchers in the UK have discovered footprints of what may be the very last dinosaurs to walk on the United Kingdom soil, some 110 million years ago.

Discovered in the cliffs and on the foreshore in Folkestone, Kent, these footprints are believed to belong to at least six different species of dinosaurs. They were discovered in a place where new fossils are constantly revealed due to natural phenomena like coastal waters and stormy conditions affecting the cliff.

The credit behind this discovery goes to a scientist from the University of Portsmouth and a curator from Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, this discovery is the last record of dinosaurs in Britain.

David Martill, a Professor of Palaeobiology, said that “This is the first time dinosaur footprints have been found in strata known as the ‘Folkestone Formation’ and it’s quite an extraordinary discovery because these dinosaurs would have been the last to roam in this country before becoming extinct,".

"They were walking around close to where the White Cliffs of Dover are now - next time you’re on a ferry and you see those magnificent cliffs just imagine that!"

Attributed to a variety of dinosaurs species, the footprints show that 110 million years ago, at the end of the Early Cretaceous period, there was a relatively high diversity of dinosaurs in southern England.

According to a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Geologists Association, the footprint fossils were formed when sediments filled up the impression left behind by a dinosaurs foot pushing into the ground, a process which then also preserves it.

These footprints are believed to be from the following dinosaurs; Ankylosaurs, a rugged-looking armoured dinosaur which is believed to have been like living tanks; Theropods, a three-toed dinosaur similar to the Tyrannosaurus rex, which also consumed flesh; and Ornithopods, ‘bird-hipped’ plant-eating dinosaurs, that had a pelvic structure a little bit similar to birds.

While most of the footprint findings are isolated, one discovery comprises six footprints. Classified as a trackway, this means that there is more than one consecutive print from the same animal.

Measuring 80 cm in width and 65 cm in length, the largest footprint found, has been identified as that of an Iguanodon-like dinosaur.

Growing up to 10 metres in length, Iguanodon were plant-eaters, and they walked on both two legs or on all fours.

"To find such an array of species in one place is fascinating. These dinosaurs probably took advantage of the tidal exposures on coastal foreshores, perhaps foraging for food or taking advantage of clear migration routes," explained Martill.

(With inputs from agencies)