Fossils reveal gentle dinosaur was falsely accused of being a vicious monster


A reconstruction of the herbivorous dinosaurs, prosauropods, based mostly on 220-million-year-old fossil footprints from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.

Anthony Romilio

Within the Nineteen Sixties, a crew of Australian coal miners chanced on an alarming underground sight: dinosaur tracks. The fossilized footprints’ common form ultimately led consultants to color the creature accountable for them as a vicious, predatory, “raptor-like” monster.

However a brand new in-depth evaluation, published Thursday in the journal Historical Biology, means that inference could not have been extra unsuitable. This 220 million-year-old dinosaur from the Triassic interval wasn’t a threatening beast out for blood.

It was a four-legged, long-necked, cuddly-looking and mild vegetarian pal.

“The extra we seemed on the footprint and toe impression shapes and proportions, the much less they resembled tracks made by predatory dinosaurs,” Anthony Romilio, a paleontologist at The College of Queensland in Australia and lead creator of the research, stated in an announcement.

“This monster dinosaur was undoubtedly a a lot friendlier plant eater.”

An uncommon side of the miners’ discovery — simply west of Brisbane, Australia — was that the prints weren’t situated on the ground. They have been protruding from stone proper above the employees’ heads. 


3D picture of the 220 million-year-old footprint from Ipswich, Queensland. 

Anthony Romilio

“It should have been fairly a sight for the primary miners within the Nineteen Sixties to see massive bird-like footprints jutting down from the ceiling,” Romilio stated. His group deduced the rationale to be that the frolicking animals had stepped in swampy materials above the mine. 

“After hundreds of thousands of years, the plant materials became coal which was extracted by the miners to disclose a ceiling of siltstone and sandstone — full with the pure casts of dinosaur footprints,” Hendrik Klein, co-author and fossil knowledgeable from Saurierwelt Paläontologisches Museum in Germany, stated in an announcement.

Though the casts have been well-preserved and accessible for evaluation, there nonetheless existed a discrepancy between what was as soon as considered the dinosaur’s demeanor and what has been uncovered. The researchers blame it on the shortage of expertise again within the day; earlier examinations solely used 2D references of the fossils. 

“Sadly, most earlier researchers couldn’t instantly entry the footprint specimen for his or her research, as a substitute counting on outdated drawings and images that lacked element,” Romilio defined.

His group, as a substitute, re-created the traditional footprints in digital 3D. The tracks, a few of which the paper says reached lengths of 18 inches (46 centimeters), turned out to be most in line with a dinosaur group often called prosauropods. These tender giants, about 4.6 toes (1.4 meters) tall and practically 20 toes (6 meters) lengthy, have been good-natured plant eaters.


Life reconstruction of the light 220 million-year-old dinosaur to scale with a 5.6 toes (1.7 meter) tall individual. 

Anthony Romilio

That is in distinction to the terrifying predators these three-toed marks have lengthy been attributed to: Dinosaurs from the Eubrontes household. 

“This concept precipitated a sensation many years in the past as a result of no different meat-eating dinosaur on the earth approached that dimension through the Triassic interval,” Romilio stated. Standing over 6.5 toes (2 meters) tall and feasting on recent meat, the Eubrontes kin have been undoubtedly not hanging in the identical grasses as prosauropods. Besides, maybe, to seize dinner.

Though the prehistoric creature has been moved from the guise of flesh-eater to light soul, it is footprints are maintained as an essential addition to our repertoire of dinosaur information.

“That is nonetheless a big discovery even when it is not a scary Triassic carnivore,” Romilio stated. “That is the earliest proof we’ve got for any such dinosaur in Australia, marking a 50 million-year hole earlier than the primary quadrupedal sauropod fossils recognized.” | Fossils reveal light dinosaur was falsely accused of being a vicious monster


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