In an article published in October in the journal historical biologyResearchers have revealed that 220 million-year-old footprints found in Australian territory were not of large carnivorous dinosaurs, as previously thought. Fossil tracks were actually left by a “good herbivore” with an elongated neck.
The remains are dated from the late Triassic period and are believed to be the oldest dinosaur fossils on the entire continent, the researchers say in the text. Conversation. They were found about 200 meters underground in a coal mine in Australia in the 1960s and are the result of a mixture of wet soil with plant waste, silt and sand.
For a long time, the scientific community believed that fossil footprints were made by a giant theropod of the family Ubrontes. The animal’s legs reach more than 2 meters in height. “This idea became very popular decades ago because no other carnivorous dinosaur in the world reached this size during the Triassic,” he explains in a note to Anthony Romilio, a researcher at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Suspecting that there was something strange about estimating the true size of the reptile given the resources available to science 50 years ago, an international team led by Romilio decided to re-analyze the material. “Unfortunately, most early researchers could not directly access the footprints to examine them,” he says. “They were based on old drawings and photographs that lack details,” he adds. But this time it was possible to study the fossil via a 3D model – which can be seen on the website morpho source.
The more experts dived deeper into the observation of the footprints and examined their size and proportions, the less it appears to have been written off by predatory dinosaurs. He noted that it does not measure 40 x 46 centimeters, as previously reported, but between 32 and 34 centimeters. “This monster was certainly a friendly herbivore,” commented Hendrik Klein, co-author of the article and paleontologist at the Sauerriervelt Palaeontology Museum in Germany.
The team realized that the sample was similar to a prosauropod herbivorous dinosaur that had legs about 1.4 meters long and a body 6 meters long. Thus, the researchers concluded that it is an “ivazoom”. The scientific term is applied to the type of footprint made by prosauropods.
the animal was classified as part of the group sauropodomorpha, which brings together distant relatives of plant-living sauropods that arrived on Earth during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. “This is still an important finding, even if it’s not a fearsome Triassic carnivore,” Klein said. After all, this is unprecedented evidence that the first Sauropodomorpha dinosaurs lived in Australian lands.