Dozens of prints from the Middle Jurassic period are discovered around a muddy and shallow lagoon on the Isle of Skye.

Scientists have discovered dozens of giant dinosaur footprints in Scotland dating back 170 million years.

The series of footprints, considered to be globally important because they are rare evidence of the Middle Jurassic period, were made in a muddy lagoon off the north-east coast of the Isle of Skye.

They were made by long-necked sauropods and theropods, dinosaurs which stood up to two metres tall and were related to Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex respectively.

About 50 footprints were discovered at Brothers’ Point, a headland on Skye’s Trotternish peninsula.

Brother's Point on the Isle of Sky. Pic: Dr Steve Brusatte
Image:Brother’s Point on the Isle of Sky. Pic: Dr Steve Brusatte

The largest was 70cm (27.5in) across, left by a sauropod, while the largest theropod track was around 50cm (19.6in).

Tidal conditions made studying the footprints difficult, but researchers were able to identify two distinct trackways in addition to many individual footprints.

Using drones to create a map of the site, the scientists also created 3D pictures using a pair of cameras and customised software.

This technology allowed the scientists to figure out the track outline, as well as the shape and orientation of the toes and presence of claws.

The work of the team at the University of Edinburgh, Staffin Museum and Chinese Academy of Sciences was published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

This footprint was found on the Isle of Skye. Pic: Paige dePolo
Image:This theropod footprint was found on the Isle of Skye. Pic: Paige dePolo

The team was led by Paige dePolo, who began it while an inaugural student in palaeontology and geobiology at the University of Edinburgh.

Ms dePolo said: “This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye.

“It was found in rocks that were slightly older than those previously found at Duntulm on the island and demonstrates the presence of sauropods in this part of the world through a longer timescale than previously known.

“This site is a useful building block for us to continue fleshing out a picture of what dinosaurs were like on Skye in the Middle Jurassic.”

Dr Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the field team, said: “The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find.

Source : sky news