Dinosaur Footprints Discovered Near Inverness

The Isle of Skye might be famous for its dinosaur footprints, but it had been thought that dinosaur trace fossils such as trackways were absent from the Scottish mainland.  However, Dr Neil Clark (Vice President of the Geological Society of Glasgow and Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow University), has published a report on the first evidence of dinosaur tracks to have been found on the Scottish mainland.  Dr Clark and his colleagues are trying to raise funds so that they can continue to map and study this evidence of Scottish dinosaurs.

One of the Sauropod Tracks from the Scottish Mainland

Footprint of a Middle Jurassic Sauropod.

Sauropod footprint from the Scottish mainland.

Picture Credit: Dr Neil Clark

Sauropod and Theropod Tracks Dating from the Middle Jurassic

The footprints, preserved in sandstone represent three-toed Theropod dinosaurs and the larger prints were very probably made by long-necked herbivores (Sauropods).  The exact location of the trace fossils has not been reported, a precaution in order to protect these extremely important fossils from any would-be fossil hunters, keen to remove a footprint.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, Dr Clark stated:

“The footprints are the first evidence of dinosaurs found on the Scottish mainland.  All the other discoveries are from the Hebrides Basin and in particular the Isle of Skye.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2015 article about the discovery of Sauropod trackways on the Isle of Skye: Isle of Skye Sauropods and their Water World

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from April 2018 reporting on more dinosaur tracks discovered on the Isle of Skye: The Isle of Skye Steps into the Jurassic Spotlight

Rare Evidence of Middle Jurassic Dinosaur Biota

Fossils of dinosaurs dating from the Middle Jurassic are exceptionally rare.  Very few parts of the world have rocks exposed dating from this period in Earth’s history, so any new information about prehistoric animals from this period is extremely important.

A Record of Theropods from the Scottish Mainland

Theropod tracks from the Scottish mainland.

Theropod tracks with an accompanying line drawing.

Picture Credit: Dr Neil Clark

Dr Clark added:

“The interesting thing about the discovery is that these are the first from the Moray Basin to the east of Scotland and help to build a clearer picture of dinosaurs living here during the Middle Jurassic.  Middle Jurassic dinosaurs are scarce worldwide and Scotland is one of the top few localities despite the poor exposure of rocks of that age.”

As these fossils are from a completely new part of Scotland for dinosaurs they will add significantly to our understanding of dinosaurs of that age in Britain.

Crowdfunding to Map the Locality

Dr Clark has set up a crowdfunding page in order to undertake a project to map the prints using a drone and to take measurements of the effects of erosion on the footprints by stormy seas.  The Scottish mainland tracks are approximately the same age as the trackways identified from the Isle of Skye – around 170 million years old.

The appeal target is £5,000 GBP, which is required to cover travel, materials and accommodation costs as well as the expenditure on the drone.  In addition to Neil, the researchers include members of Edinburgh University’s School of Geosciences and students.

To visit the Crowdfunding page for the project: Just Giving Page – Scottish Dinosaurs

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