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‘Treasure trove’ of dinosaur footprints discovered by the strong storm

A large iguanodontian footprint found in Hastings, East Sussex.
(University of Cambridge/Neil Davies/SWNS)

A “treasure trove” of dinosaur footprints from at least seven different species, including a species of stegosaur — that date back approximately 100 million years have been discovered by the storm surge in the United Kingdom, researchers from the University of Cambridge revealed on Monday.

More than 85 “well preserved” dinosaur prints from the Cretaceous period were found in East Sussex, along the cliffs near Hastings, from 2014 to 2018, the researchers said. Their impressive findings were recently published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

“Many of the footprints — which vary in size from less than 2 cm to more than 60 cm wide — are so well preserved that fine details of the skin, scales and claws is clearly visible,” the researchers wrote.

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Dr. Neil Davies, co-author of the study, said the detailed prints were found during the past four winters when the severe storms hit area. Davies was impressed by the diversity of the prints, that the “incredible detail” by the moist environment.

“You can clearly see that the structure of the skin and scales, as well as four-toed claw marks, which are extremely rare,” he explained in an online statement.

A large iguanodontian footprint found in Hastings, East Sussex.
(University of Cambridge/Neil Davies/SWNS)

Anthony Shillito, a student in the Cambridge department of earth sciences and co-author, said the whole body of fossils that were collected will help to shed light on which dinosaurs co-existed and how they influenced the country roamed.

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“You can get an idea about which dinosaurs she made out the shape of the footprints to compare with what we know about the dinosaur feet of other fossils can you identify the major similarities. When you also look at footprints from other locations, you can begin to piece together those species were the main players,” Davies agreed.

Specifically, Shillito plans to focus on how the big old creatures affected river flows.

“We see a number of smaller scale evidence of their impact; in the deeper footprints you can see a thicket of plants that were growing. We also found evidence of footsteps along the banks of the river channels, so it is possible that the dinosaurs played a role in creating those channels,” he explained.

The area where the dinosaur prints were found is apparently one of the top dig sites in England, and the researchers hope to find even more evidence in the coming years.

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