Dinosaur prints found on NZealand's South Island

Nov 07, 2009
Scientist Greg Browne sits next to one of six 70 million-year-old footprints found in various locations in the Nelson region. They are the first dinosaur footprints found in New Zealand although bones, mostly vertebrae, have been found in two North Island locations. Browne, a sedimentologist, believes the footprints belonged to sauropods -- plant-eating dinosaurs.

Scientists have discovered the first evidence that dinosaurs roamed the South Island of New Zealand with 70-million-year-old footprints found in six locations.

They are the first dinosaur footprints found in the country although bones, mostly vertebrae, have been discovered in two North Island locations.

The footprints were found by scientist Greg Browne in the remote Whanganui Inlet in the northwest of Nelson at the top of the South Island.

They are spread over 10 kilometres and in one area there are up to 20 footprints, Browne said.

Browne, a sedimentologist, believes the footprints belonged to sauropods -- plant-eating which were among the largest animals to have lived, growing up to six metres (yards) in length and weighing several tonnes.

He said he carefully considered all possible geological and biological explanations for the features in the rock and was able to rule them out one by one.

His investigation included comparisons with dinosaur footprints in similar-aged rocks in other parts of the world.

The footprints were made in beach sands and were probably quickly covered and preserved by mud from subsequent tides.

"What makes this discovery special is the unique preservation of the footprints in an environment where they could easily have been destroyed by waves, tides, or wind," Browne said.

As with much of New Zealand, northwest Nelson was largely submerged between 70 and 20 million years ago and the footprints would have been covered by hundreds of metres of marine sediments.

However, after the country was uplifted and northwest Nelson emerged from the sea, the overlying sedimentary has been eroded away over the past 20 million years to expose the again, Browne said.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dino footprints enter record books

Oct 06, 2009

French researchers on Tuesday said they had uncovered the biggest dinosaur footprints in the world, left by giant sauropods that may have weighed 40 tonnes or more.

Earliest evidence for reptiles

Oct 17, 2007

Newly discovered fossilised footprints provide the earliest evidence yet for the evolution of reptiles – a major event in the history of life. They are 315 million years old, making reptiles up to 3 million ...

Dinosaur tracks attract a crowd

Jan 15, 2008

More than 100 people gathered in Kane County, Utah, to see fossilized footprints pressed into the sandstone by dinosaurs 185 million years ago.

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.

Will a footprint rewrite the history books?

Jul 05, 2005

Scientists have unearthed human footprints in central Mexico which they claim are around 40,000 years old, shattering previous theories on how humans first colonised the Americas.

Researcher Identifies Tracks Of Swimming Dinosaur In Wyoming

Oct 17, 2005

The tracks of a previously unknown, two-legged swimming dinosaur have been identified along the shoreline of an ancient inland sea that covered Wyoming 165 million years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder ...

Recommended for you

Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

8 hours ago

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

Dec 20, 2014

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist ...

Digging up the 'Spanish Vikings'

Dec 19, 2014

The fearsome reputation of the Vikings has made them the subject of countless exhibitions, books and films - however, surprisingly little is known about their more southerly exploits in Spain.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.