Fossil footprints present in an Australian coal mine round 50 years in the past have lengthy been regarded as that of a big ‘raptor-like’ predatory dinosaur, however scientists have in truth found they have been as a substitute left by a timid long-necked herbivore.
College of Queensland palaeontologist Dr Anthony Romilio not too long ago led a global crew to re-analyse the footprints, dated to the latter a part of the Triassic Interval, round 220 million-year-ago.
“For years it has been believed that these tracks have been made by a large theropod predator that was a part of the dinosaur household Eubrontes, with legs over two metres tall,” Dr Romilio mentioned.
“This concept precipitated a sensation many years in the past as a result of no different meat-eating dinosaur on the planet approached that dimension in the course of the Triassic interval.”
Nonetheless, findings made by a crew of worldwide researchers, printed immediately within the peer-reviewed journal Historic Biology, in truth reveals the tracks have been as a substitute made by a dinosaur generally known as a Prosauropod – a vegetarian dinosaur that have been smaller, with legs about 1.4 metres tall and a physique size of six metres.
The analysis crew suspected there was one thing not-quite-right with the unique dimension estimates and there was a very good cause for his or her doubts.
“Sadly, most earlier researchers couldn’t straight entry the footprint specimen for his or her examine, as a substitute counting on outdated drawings and pictures that lacked element,” Dr Romilio mentioned.
The dinosaur fossils have been found greater than half a century in the past round 200 metres deep underground at an Ipswich coal mine, simply west of Brisbane.
“It will need to have been fairly a sight for the primary miners within the Sixties to see massive bird-like footprints jutting down from the ceiling,” Dr Romilio mentioned.
Hendrik Klein, co-author and fossil skilled from Saurierwelt Paläontologisches Museum in Germany, mentioned the footprints — known as ‘Evazoum’, scientifically, the footprint sort made by prosauropod dinosaurs — have been made on the water-sodden layers of historical plant particles with the tracks later in-filled by silt and sand.
“This explains why immediately they happen in an upside-down place proper above our heads,” Mr Klein mentioned.
“After hundreds of thousands of years, the plant materials changed into coal which was extracted by the miners to disclose a ceiling of siltstone and sandstone, full with the pure casts of dinosaur footprints.”
The mine has lengthy since closed, however fortuitously, in 1964, geologists and the Queensland Museum mapped the trackway and made plaster casts, now utilized in present analysis.
“We made a digital 3D mannequin of the dinosaur footprint that was emailed to crew members the world over to review,” Mr Klein mentioned.
“The extra we appeared on the footprint and toe impression shapes and proportions, the much less they resembled tracks made by predatory dinosaurs — this monster dinosaur was positively a a lot friendlier plant-eater.
“That is nonetheless a big discovery even when it is not a scary Triassic carnivore.
“That is the earliest proof we now have for this sort of dinosaur in Australia, marking a 50-million-year hole earlier than the primary quadrupedal sauropod fossils recognized.”
The dinosaur footprint is on show on the Queensland Museum, Brisbane.