Remember dinosaurs? The massive lizard-like animals that walked the earth allegedly several million years ago. Scientific evidence suggests that those reptiles existed over 200 million years ago and were dominant during the Triassic-Jurassic periods. Their dominance ended about 66 million years ago after which they eventually became extinct.
Now, scientists have discovered fossil footprints of the biggest dinosaurs ever in Australia. The footprint assemblage contains evidence of 21 species and is the most diverse in the world. It also contains evidence of the largest dinosaur print ever recorded, a 5-foot-9-inch print. The tracks also provide the first evidence that spiky tailed stegosaurs lived in the land down under.
Lead scientist, Steve Salisbury, a paleontologist at the University of Queensland, told Gizmodo that “The tracks provide a snapshot, a census if you will, of an extremely diverse dinosaur fauna” according to the Washington Post. “Twenty-one different types of dinosaurs all living together at the same time in the same area. We have never seen this level of diversity before, anywhere in the world. It’s the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti. And it’s written in stone.”
There are thousands of marks along the 15-mile stretch of coastline, called Walmadany by the indigenous Goolarabooloo people and labeled James Price Point on most maps. Salisbury likened the region to “Australia’s own ‘Jurassic Park.’ ” The area was listed as a natural heritage site in 2011.
Dinosaur tracks in Walmadany. (Damian Kelly)Salisbury also said that most other Australian dinosaur fossils come from the continent’s eastern side and date back to the mid-Cretaceous, about 90 to 115 million years ago. These tracks, which are between 127 and 144 million years old, represent the only fossil evidence from the early Cretaceous and are some of the oldest dinosaur remains in Australia, he said.