Palaeontologists stunned after discovering footprints from ‘world’s largest’ dinosaur

Prehistoric Planet producer discusses evolution of dinosaurs

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Earlier this month, a diner in the courtyard of a restaurant in China’s southwest Sichuan Province had spotted several strange marks on the ground. Now, palaeontologists have confirmed that marks noticed by a diner in the courtyard of a restaurant in southwest China’s Sichuan Province are dinosaur footprints dating back to the early Cretaceous period. On July 10, Ou Hongtao, a dinosaur enthusiast, spotted some “special dents on the ground in the yard of the restaurant” in the city of Leshan.

Mr Ou speculated the mysterious marks were likely dinosaur footprints, and later that day contacted Xing Lida, associate professor with the China University of Geosciences

On July 16, Professor Xing, along with a team of researchers conducted an investigation into the site, to find that the marks actually belonged to two brontosauruses in the early Cretaceous period.

The researcher noted the discovery was significant in that it is the first time dinosaur footprints have been found in the city of Leshan.

Observing the indentations on the ground, he believed the dinosaur may have “been accelerating while running into the woods.”

These dinosaurs dated back to about 100 million years ago and lived along a river in the arid environment of the ancient Leshan region.

In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed finding, scientists confirmed the footprints belonged to sauropods, likely measured about eight metres in body length and lived during a time when “dinosaurs really flourished” in the region.

Sauropods had extremely long necks, long tails, heads that were far smaller when compared to the rest of their body, and four thick, pillar-like legs.

The species in the group include the largest animals to ever live on land with some going up to 34m in length.

Even the smallest of these herbivores lived to be around five to six metres long, and would still usually be the largest animal in its ecosystem.

This latest discovery comes as earlier this year, palaeontologists unearthed a new species of stegosaur from southern China that is the oldest ever to have been found in Asia – and perhaps even the world.

Joining one of the most iconic groups of dinosaurs, the newly-identified species — named “Bashanosaurus primitivus” — was found near Laojun Village in the Chongqing municipality.

With the fossil creature being relatively small at just 9 feet from tip to tail, experts have said that they are unsure at present if the specimen represents an adult or a juvenile individual.

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Based on the sediments from which it was unearthed, researchers have determined that B. primitivus lived some 168 million years ago, during the Middle Jurassic period — meaning it could shine a light on where and how stegosaurs first evolved.

The researchers named the new, fearsome-looking species Bashanosaurus primitivus after both “Bashan”, the ancient name for the region in which the fossil was found, and the Latin word meaning “first”, in reference to its record-breaking age.

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