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Today, dinosaurs are considered a relic of the past, with many people understandably doubting their existence. How could such a powerful Jurassic age creature vanish with almost no proof of its existence? Where did they go? How do we know that, indeed, they walked the same earth as we now do?
Although it is not clear when scientists found the first dinosaur tracks, we have since come to discover that our enormous friends did leave their footprints on the sands of time quite literally.
In this article, you are going to discover where to find dinosaur footprints.
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So if you love dinosaurs and would like to find a real footprint, this article is just right for you.
Let’s get to it.
Are there any dinosaur footprints?
It is a well-known fact that today’s birds are avian descendants of dinosaurs, even though a great part of these prehistoric animals’ allure is their variety and size. The truth is, dinos are not around anymore, but their memories do live on.
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All over the globe, there are nooks and crannies where you can find evidence of these grand creatures’ existence. Fossilized dinosaur footprints and tracks abound, giving you a feel of the once kings in a classic blast from the past. Although most people are familiar with dinosaur footprints cartoon, these tracks are real and can be found.
How do dinosaur footprints survive?
Footprints or tracks are created when animals make an impression in any soft sediment such as mud or sand. This impression causes an imprint to form on the ground.
Dinosaur footprints or tracks are described as a type of trace fossil. A trace fossil was evidence of an animal’s activity when it was alive, which is not a part of an animal itself. Dinosaur footprints silhouette typically do not include the bones or any part of the dinosaur that has left its tracks behind. Scientists that study these types of fossils are called technologists.
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However, a large majority of tracks or footprints are not fossilized. In most cases, they are destroyed not long after they are made. Footprints can be blown apart by the wind, eroded by water, stepped on by animals, or obliterated by other forces. One might think burying tracks would destroy them, but the opposite is the case. A layer of sediment goes a long way in preserving dinosaur footprints’ silhouettes.
Another method by which tracks are preserved is when an animal’s foot sinks so deeply into the sediment that it creates a footprint below the surface where it cannot be easily eroded or damaged. Dinosaurs were considered some of the biggest creatures to walk the earth, so it is easy to imagine how their feet could easily sink deeply into the sediment.
When buried tracks are reexposed, they are a lot easier to recognize if the sediment that has filled or buried them possesses different characteristics from the sediment where the tracks were originally made. An example is a footprint made in fine-grain mud, which is then covered with a bed of sand.
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Footprints covered with the same sediment as which they were formed can also be distinguished if the track surfaces are altered slightly before burial. This alteration will result in a clear division between the sediment covering the tracks and the tracks themselves. Real dinosaur footprints can be protected when buried under the right condition.
However, it is important to note that just the burial of these footprints does not ensure that they are preserved long term. The most effective method of preservation is when the sediments in which the tracks are made become hardened. The hardening of footprints made in sediments is called lithification. Lithification occurs when sedimentary grains become bound together with mineral cement or when the sediments become compact.
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When loose sediments turn to rock, the footprints contained within them become fossilized. These fossil tracks are not visible to humans unless reexposure occurs. Factors such as erosion and weathering can cause even the hardest of rocks to wear down over time, resulting in removing the layers that cover the fossil footprints.
Dinosaur footprints become fossils under special conditions. Most tracks are made in wet sediment, so you will often find footprints preserved in areas that have shallow water, such as lake beds or near bodies of water. This implies that it is harder to find tracks preserved in habitats that are not near water bodies. In exceptional cases, footprints can be preserved when animals walk on dunes that have been moistened by dew.
Although it is quite easy to point out a dinosaur track due to its size, it is almost impossible to identify what dinosaur species is responsible for the footprint. Many theropods, for instance, have three-toed feet that look very similar. The tracks and bones do not line up precisely as the bones do not have the soft tissue that constituted the hand or foot with which the print was formed. You can notice most of these differences in dinosaur footprints drawing.
Most times, the bones found close to footprints belong to an entirely different dinosaur; otherwise, they would have fossilized under different conditions. Finding a termination trackway is very rare. A termination trackway is when a dinosaur’s fossil is associated with its final steps.
Where can I see dinosaur footprints?
There are several locations in the world today where you can find fossilized dinosaur footprints. Many people ask, “Where can I see dinosaur footprints in the UK?” or “Where can I see dinosaur footprints in France?”
If you cannot travel the world searching for these iconic footprints, you can purchase this Life Size Tyrannosaurus Dinosaur Footprint Fossil to see what a dinosaur footprint looks like.
Dinosaur tracks have been uncovered by construction and road crews, while others have been visible via natural causes such as glaciers. If you are interested in seeing dinosaur footprints, here are a few locations you can check out.
La Rioja, Spain
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In this region, dinosaur track hunters have come across over 2,000 tracks. This area has been nicknamed the “Jurassic Park” of the country, with many footprints that have been outlined in white to increase their visibility on the grey rock opera del Peladillo.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Also known as “Dinosaur Island,” this location, specifically Staffin Beach, boasts of prints left by small dinosaurs millions of years ago. At the small Staffin Museum, you can find casts of the dinosaur tracks and dinosaur bones, among other fossils.
Gantheaume Point, Australia
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At the northwestern corner of Australia, you will find dinosaur tracks hidden in the rocks. These tracks became the subject of studies in the 1940s, with scientists having to time their observations due to the environment’s nature. The area is characterized by dramatic tides, allowing the footprints to be seen for only about an hour. Today, however, tourists can experience these tracks while aboard hovercrafts.
Dinosaur Ridge, Morrison, Colorado
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Here you will find over 300 tracks of ornithopod and theropod dinosaurs. These creatures roamed this ridge 100 million years ago when this ridge was a beach located along the shores of a vast ocean.
Dampier Peninsula, Australia
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This location is home to the largest dinosaur print known to man. It is located at a site called Walmadany, off Australia’s western coast. It is believed that twenty-one species of dinosaurs cavorted here during the Cretaceous period.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Source by: www.smithsonianmag.com
Here, you can find several theropod tracks as well as thousands of herbivorous hadrosaur tracks. These footprints serve as evidence that dinosaurs might have habited all year-round in polar latitudes.
Parque Cretácico, Cal Orck'o, Bolivia
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In Parque Cretácico, you will find a 300-foot mudflat on a vertical wall inside a rock quarry. This 90-meter mudflat is covered with more than 5,000 tracks representing eight species and over 450 individual dinosaurs. It is regarded as the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world.
Bendricks Bay, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
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In January 2021, Lily Wilder spotted what she believed to be a dinosaur footprint at Hendricks Bay, Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Scientists believe it can help establish how these creatures walked.
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When the tide is low, at this quaint beach on France’s Atlantic coast, hundreds of Jurassic-era three-toed dinosaur footprints surface. Paleontologists have studied these tracks since 1965, and it is estimated that about a dozen different species left them. According to observers, it is best to go during the spring equinox, as you will encounter less marine flora covering the tracks.
Petrified Forest National Park
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If you are trying to find dinosaur footprints in Arizona, Grand Canyon is the place for you. The site boasts of several fossils, including dinosaurs, reptiles, and amphibians.
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At East Sussex, you will find over 85 well-preserved dinosaur footprints. These footprints were made by about seven different species representing the most detailed and diverse collection of these trace fossils from the Cretaceous Period found
in the UK till date.
Most of the footprints ranging from less than 2 cm to over 60 cm in size are so well-preserved that you can observe fine detail of scales, skin, and claws.
Isle of Wight
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Known as the UK’s dinosaur capital, the Isle of Wight is touted as one of the earliest grounds for dinosaur activity in Europe. You will find most of the island’s dinosaur treasures along the southwest coast, with footprints at Hanover Point, Chilton Chine, Compton Chine, Cowleaze Chine, and Sudmoor Point. Fossils are dating from the Lower Cretaceous littered along this stretch; however, you will find most of them on Compton Bay.