A giant dinosaur footprint discovered on the Yorkshire coastline may have links to a predator stopping for a rest 166 million years ago.
The fossil was spotted in Burniston Bay, near Scarborough, in 2021, scientists at the time described the footprint as the largest they had ever encountered within the Yorkshire region. The huge footprint - measuring nearly a metre (3.3 feet) long - is believed to have originated from the Jurassic period over 166 million years ago, according to a study by the University of Manchester.
The discovery is likely to shed new light on the behaviour of the dinosaurs. But what have scientists said about the record breaking fossil and who was the first person to discover it? Here’s everything you need to know.
When was the dinosaur footprint discovered?
The dinosaur footprint was first discovered on the Yorkshire coast by archaeologist Marie Woods in April 2021. Woods said at the time: “I had originally gone to collect shellfish for dinner, but got completely distracted by this beast. I had to do a double take. I have seen a few smaller prints when out with friends, but nothing like this.”
Following her discovery Woods contacted a range of specialists including palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax from the University of Manchester.
What have scientists said about the dinosaur footprint?
Scientists have studied the dinosaur footprint extensively over the last two years and researchers believe it was made by a giant carnivore like a Megalosaurus. The footprint is the largest left by a theropod - a group of bipedal dinosaurs which also featured the Tyrannosaurus Rex - to ever be found in Yorkshire.
Dr Dean Lomax claimed the discovery has given researchers a greater understanding of the behaviour of the carnivore giants which once roamed the region’s coast.
Lomax said: “Features of the footprint may even suggest that the large predator was squatting down before standing up. It’s fun to think this dinosaur might well have been strolling along a muddy coastal plain one lazy Sunday afternoon in the Jurassic.”
What is a Megalosaurus?
A megalosaurus was the world’s first official dinosaur, named in 1824 for bones discovered in the County of Oxfordshire in England. The carnivore dinosaur was one of the largest predators of its era - it had a large skull armed with sharp, serrated teeth, and its body reached 8 to 9 metres in length.
Where is the fossil now?
Scientists have confirmed that plans are now in motion for the dinosaur footprint to be put on display at Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum.
Lomax said: “Now that the specimen has been studied, plans are now in motion for it to go on public display, to spark the imagination of the next generation of fossil hunters.”
The Rotunda Museum is one of the oldest purpose-built museums still in use in the UK and it was first opened to the public in 1829. It houses one of the foremost collections of Jurassic geology on the Yorkshire coast.