Lead author of the study, Anthony Romelu, technical assistant at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement.
He teamed up with a team of international researchers to reanalyze the fossil and discovered that the footprint belonged to a prosauropod, a herbivorous dinosaur. That would make fingerprints the only physical evidence Romelu said all the prosauropods from the Triassic period were found in Australia.
The fossil was discovered in a coal mine in Ipswich, a town west of Brisbane, 200 meters underground. Scientists at the time estimated that the creature that made the imprint was over two meters long, making it the largest carnivorous dinosaur of the Triassic Period, he said.
Romelu wouldn’t buy it – in part because there was no consistent data on the fossil.
“I heard about this fossil many years ago and was surprised that there was no consensus on basic details such as the length of the imprint or even its shape,” did he declare.
Romelu said a clue that the footprint came from a prosauropod-like herbivore was the shape of the feet. The toes of predatory dinosaurs were clustered together, but the fossil toes were spaced out.
This long-necked animal was about 1.4 meters long and about 6 meters long. Romelu added that the dinosaur probably had a small head and walked on two legs.
In the statement, Romelu said previous scientists had not been able to examine the fossil during their investigations, forcing them to draw conclusions based on photographs and drawings.
Co-author Hendrik Klein said in a statement that in 1964, geologists made plaster casts of the imprint, which were then made into 3D models that the research team studied. He is a paleontologist at the Saurierwelt Paläontologisches Museum in Germany.
“The more we look at the footprints and impressions in the toes and their dimensions, the less they look like predatory dinosaur footprints – this beast dinosaur was definitely more plant-friendly,” Klein said.
Dinosaur enthusiasts can view a dinosaur fossil at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane or take a look at a 3D model online.
Romelu examines the footprints of other dinosaur fossils in China, South Korea, and the United States to learn more about the creatures that created them.
Each dinosaur has made millions of footprints in its lifetime, he said, so together they left far more fossil footprints than bones for research.
Arabic study Posted Thursday in Biology.
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