170-million-year-old dinosaur footprints found on Isle of Skye
Published 01/12/2015 | 17:46
Rare footprints of giants that once roamed Scotland have been discovered on the Isle of Skye.
They were left around 170 million years ago by sauropods - huge plant-eating dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
The creatures, whose identity is unknown, grew to a length of at least 15 metres (49 feet) and weighed more than 10 tonnes.
Hundreds of the dinosaurs' tracks were discovered, the largest measuring more than two feet across.
They are the first sauropod prints to be found in Scotland. Until now, the only evidence that such dinosaurs inhabited the region has come from a small number of bone and teeth fragments.
The tracks were stamped into rocks that once formed the bottom of a shallow, salt water lagoon.
Lead scientist Dr Steve Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "The new tracksite from Skye is one of the most remarkable dinosaur discoveries ever made in Scotland.
"There are so many tracks crossing each other that it looks like a dinosaur disco preserved in stone. By following the tracks you can walk with these dinosaurs as they waded through a lagoon 170 million years ago, when Scotland was so much warmer than today."
The owners of the prints were early ancestors of well-known dinosaur species such as Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, said the scientists who report the find in the Scottish Journal of Geology.
Co-author Dr Tom Challands, also from the University of Edinburgh, said: "It is exhilarating to make such a discovery and being able to study it in detail, but the best thing is this is only the tip of the iceberg. I'm certain Skye will keep yielding great sites and specimens for years to come."