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


Reconstruction of herbivorous dinosaurs and prosauropoda based on 220 million year old fossil footprints from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.

Anthony Romerio

In the 1960s, the crew of an Australian coal miner came across an amazing underground sight of dinosaur footprints. Due to the general shape of fossilized footprints, experts eventually portrayed their causative creatures as vicious and predatory “raptor-like” monsters.

But a new detailed analysis, Published in Historical Biology on ThursdaySuggests that the reasoning couldn’t have been more wrong. This 220 million year old Triassic dinosaur was not a blood-threatening beast.

It was a four-legged, long-necked, pretty, gentle vegetarian friend.

Anthony Romilio, a paleontologist and lead author of the study at the University of Queensland, Australia, said in a statement, “The more you look at the shape and proportion of the impression of footprints and toes, the more the footprints made by predatory dinosaurs. It’s not similar. “

“This monster dinosaur was definitely a much more friendly plant eater.”

A rare aspect of the miner’s discovery, just west of Brisbane, Australia, was that the prints were not placed on the floor. They were sticking out of a stone just above the worker’s head.


A 3D image of a 220 million year old footprint from Ipswich, Queensland.

Anthony Romerio

“For the first miners of the 1960s, it must have been quite a sight to see the big bird-like footprints protruding from the ceiling,” Romilio said. His team speculated why the playful animals set foot in the swamps above the mines.

“Millions of years later, the plant material was turned into coal and extracted by miners to reveal siltstone and sandstone ceilings, complete with natural castings of dinosaur footprints.” , Saurierwelt Paläontologisches co-author and fossil expert Hendrick Klein said. The Deutsches Museum said in a statement.

The cast was well preserved and available for analysis, but there was still a contradiction between what was once thought to be a dinosaur attitude and what was discovered. Researchers blamed the lack of technology at the time. Previous tests used only fossil 2D references.

“Unfortunately, most early researchers did not have direct access to footprint specimens for their research and instead relied on old drawings and photographs that lacked details,” explained Romerio. ..

Instead, his team recreated the ancient footprints in Digital 3D. The track, which some papers state has reached a length of 18 inches (46 centimeters), turned out to be the best match for the dinosaur group known as prosauropoda. About 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) high and about 20 feet (6 meters) long, these soft giants were friendly plant eaters.

prosauropod-20210928 scaleprosauropod-20210928 scale

It reconstructed the calm dinosaur life of 220 million years ago for a person who is 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall.

Anthony Romerio

This is because, in contrast to the dreaded predators, these three-finger marks have long been thought of as: A dinosaur of the Eubrontes family.

“This idea caused a sensation decades ago, as other meat-eating dinosaurs in the world did not approach that size during the Triassic,” said Romerio. Eubrontes’ relatives, who stood over 6.5 feet (2 meters) high and ate fresh meat, were not hanging in the same grass as prosauropoda. Probably except having dinner.

Prehistoric creatures have been transferred from carnivorous attire to calm souls, but their footprints are maintained as an important addition to the dinosaur knowledge repertoire.

“Even if it’s not a scary Triassic carnivore, this is still an important discovery,” said Romerio. “This is the earliest evidence we have of this type of dinosaur in Australia, showing a gap of 50 million years before the first fossil sauropods were known.”

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