The largest dinosaur footprint discovered to date has been found this week in Australia. The discovery was made on the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia, in a part of the country dubbed “Australia’s Jurassic Park” because of the large number of other dinosaur finds made in the area. In fact, 21 different dinosaur tracks in all were discovered in the Dampier find, with some of them believed to be up to 140 million years old.
The large print that the scientists who made the discovery are so excited about has been measured at 5 feet and 9 inches long (1.75 meters). It was made by a sauropod, which was an herbivore with a long neck and tail and a massive body. The size of the find beats the record for largest dinosaur footprint that was set last year in Bolivia, for a print that measured 3 feet 9 inches (1.15 meters). This footprint was made by a carnivorous dinosaur.
The team that made the find had been doing research in the area for five years. The indigenous Goolarabooloo tribe initiated the study. They had known about the presence of dinosaur footprints in the area and wanted them confirmed by science because the government of Western Australia has chosen the region as a site for processing liquefied natural gas. They tribe hopes that the find will help protect the area from this activity.
Documenting the find turned out to be quite difficult. The rocks that contain the tracks are in an intertidal zone and are under up to 30 feet of water about half the time. Drones and light aircraft had to be used to photograph the tracks.
Dinosaur finds have been made in Australia before, but they typically come from the east coast of the country. The previous finds have also only been about 115 million years old at the most, making this site the oldest found in Australia.
In addition to the sauropod prints, the scientists found tracks was several different types of carnivorous dinosaurs. They also found evidence of armored stegosaurs, which is the first find of its kind in Australia. It may be the most diverse dinosaur find ever made.