Scientists discover first dinosaur trail in Victoria

Aug 10, 2011
Dinosaur footprint. Credit: Museum Victoria

Two sandstone blocks discovered by palaeontologists have provided the most extensive evidence of dinosaur footprints in Victoria. Found at Melanesia Beach, near Cape Otway, they represent 85 per cent of the known dinosaur footprints from the state.

Published today in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology, this important finding provides new insights on dinosaur diversity and activity not indicated previously by dinosaur fossils found in Victoria.

“This is the most significant dinosaur track discovery in Victoria,” said Dr. Thomas Rich, Senior Curator, Vertebrate Palaeontology, Museum Victoria.

“There are at least 24 made by a variety of within the two sandstone blocks.”

Before this discovery, only four documented dinosaur tracks had been found in Victoria, after more than 100 years of paleontological research in the state.

One of the blocks include the first known dinosaur trackway in Victoria, consisting of three consecutive footprints in a sequence made by a small carnivourous dinosaur about 105 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous period.

“What is significant about dinosaur footprints as opposed to dinosaur bones or teeth is the evidence of the presence of dinosaurs,” said Dr. Rich.

“The trace fossils tell us how the dinosaurs were living in the area at the time.”

Co-author of the paper, Professor Pat Rich from the School of Geosciences at Monash University explained that members of the local community played an important role in this new discovery.

“In addition to one slab of prints that we found, the second slab was discovered by our longtime, very supportive local landowner, Greg Denny.

"How he found those faint prints shows that he is one the world’s best dino trackers. Local people are so important in helping us palaeo folk make new discoveries,” said Professor Rich.

The dinosaur footprints were discovered at Melanesia Beach, near Cape Otway in June last year by Dr. Thomas Rich and lead author, Dr. Anthony Martin of the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia while on a month-long expedition across the coastline of Victoria, in search of trace fossils made by dinosaurs.

According to Dr. Martin who identified the find, “the dinosaur tracks indicate three differently size theropod dinosaurs, and they tell us about the seasonal behavior of these dinosaurs.

“The tracks were formed within a short time span, possibly during a polar summer as the tracks would not have been preserved if the ground was frozen, and the dinosaurs may have had less activity during winter,” said Dr. Martin.

Little information about the behaviour of polar dinosaurs can be gathered from this study by but the newly discovered shed new light on dinosaur presence and their interactions from their environments not provided by previously found from this region in Australia.

Explore further: Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

More information: A polar dinosaur-track assemblage from the Eumerella Formations (Albian), Victoria, Australia is written by Dr Anthony Martin, Emory University, Dr Thomas Rich, Museum Victoria, Dr Patricia Vickers-Rich, Monash University, Dr Michael Hall, Monash University and Dr Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, Emory University, and is published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Polar dinosaur tracks open new trail to past

Aug 09, 2011

Paleontologists have discovered a group of more than 20 polar dinosaur tracks on the coast of Victoria, Australia, offering a rare glimpse into animal behavior during the last period of pronounced global warming, about 105 ...

Possible dinosaur burrows clues to survival strategies

Jul 16, 2009

Internationally renowned palaeontologist and Monash University Honorary Research Associate, Dr Anthony Martin has found evidence of a dinosaur burrow along the coast of Victoria, which helps to explain how dinosaurs protected ...

In the footsteps of dinosaurs

Oct 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A geosciences grad student is piecing together evidence about dinosaurs from fossilized footprints.

Thousands of dinosaur footprints uncovered in China

Feb 07, 2010

Archaeologists in China have uncovered more than 3,000 dinosaur footprints, state media reported, in an area said to be the world's largest grouping of fossilised bones belonging to the ancient animals.

British boy spots dinosaur tracks

Feb 24, 2008

An 8-year-old boy found a pair of 160-million-year-old dinosaur tracks on the beach near his home in England, it was reported.

Recommended for you

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

Oct 24, 2014

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

User comments : 0