In an article published in October in the journal historical biologyScientists have revealed that 220 million-year-old footprints found in Australian territory were not of large carnivorous dinosaurs as previously believed. Fossil traces 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 in the entire continent, the researchers say in the text. Conversation. They were found about 200 meters below ground in a coal mine in Australia in the 1960s, and are the result of a mixture of wet soil with plant debris, silt and sand.
For a long time the scientific community thought that fossil footprints were made by a giant theropod of the family Ubrontes. The legs of the animal will 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, on a note, Anthony Romilio, researcher from the University of Queensland, Australia.
Suspecting that there was something strange in estimating the reptile’s true size 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 were unable to 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 viewed on the website morpho source.
The more experts delved deeper into the observation of the footprints, examining their size and proportions, the less it appears to have been written off by predatory dinosaurs. He noted that it does not measure 40 by 46 centimeters, as previously reported, but between 32 and 34 centimeters. “This monster was certainly a friendly plant eater,” commented Hendrik Klein, co-author of the article and paleontologist at the Sauerriervelt Palaeontologis Museum in Germany.
The team realized that the specimen corresponded to a prosauropod herbivorous dinosaur, which 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 footprints made by prosauropods.
the animal was classified as part of the group sauropodomorpha, which brings together distant relatives of herbivorous sauropods that arrived on Earth during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. “This is still an important finding, even if it isn’t a fearsome Triassic carnivore,” Klein says. After all, this is unprecedented evidence that the first Sauropodomorpha dinosaurs lived in Australian lands.