Researchers Find Sauropod Footprints in Scotland

An important discovery from a time that didn't otherwise produce a great deal of fossils.

Mark Wilkinson/University of Edinburgh

Researchers have uncovered a trail of sauropod tracks on the Scottish island of Skye.

Hailing from the middle Jurassic period, the discovery is rare, as fossils from that era can be hard to come across. Dr. Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh told Newsy, “We were walking back, and we saw this big depression…and then we saw another one and another, in a zigzag kind of sequence. It dawned on us these are footprints and handprints left by the biggest dinosaurs of all.”

Left by several dinosaurs over thousands of years, the tracks have special meaning, as Brusatte notes the tracks come from the Middle Jurassic, a time that didn’t produce a lot of dinosaur fossils—so finding such a distinct discovery helps gather hard-to-ascertain behavioral facts. “We started seeing these dinosaurs as only existing on land,” continued Brusatte, “but this track site in Scotland…show us that these huge dinosaurs did often live near the water—sometimes even went out into the water.”

He explained that dinosaur discoveries in Scotland are uncommon, only really being found over the past 30 years, “so we’re really just scratching the surface.”

Brusatte also published a piece in the Scottish Journal of Geology, where he described his findings in greater detail:

“It provides further evidence of a relatively primitive sauropod with narrow-gauge locomotion, large thumb claws, and feet with straight digits persisting into the Middle Jurassic.”