More than 85 well-preserved dinosaur tracks – made at least seven different species – have been discovered in East Sussex, representing the most diverse and extensive collection of TRACE FOSSILS from the Cretaceous period, found in the UK to date.
Traces have been identified Cambridge University researchers between 2014 and 2018 a year, following periods of coastal erosion along the cliff near Hastings. Many of the tracks – what legal & # 39; iruyutstsa in size from less than 2 cm to more than 60 cm in diameter – are so well preserved that small parts of the skin, scales and claws easily visible.
Traces date back to the era of the Lower Cretaceous, between 145 and 100 million years ago, with prints of herbivores, including Iguanodon. Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus type, and possible examples of zauropodov group (which included diplodocus and brontosaurs); as well as carnivorous theropods. The results are reported in the journal Paleogeography, paleoclimatology, paleoecology.
Over the past 160 years, there were isolated reports of fossilized dinosaur footprints along the coast of Sussex, but no major new discoveries, they have not been described in the last quarter of the last century and earlier results were much less varied and detailed than those described in this study,
The area around Hastings with & # 39 is one of the richest in the UK dinosaur fossils, including the first known Iguanodon in 1825, and the first confirmed example of a fossilized dinosaur brain tissue in 2016, however, traces of fossils, such as the following, which may help scientists learn more about the composition of the dinosaur community, are less common in this area.
"The whole body of the dinosaur fossils are incredibly rare," said Anthony Shillito,, graduate student at Cambridge Earth Science and first author of the paper. "Usually you get only small pieces that do not tell you much about that dinosaurs may have lived. A collection of tracks, as this will help you to fill in some gaps and make a conclusion about what things dinosaurs lived at the same place at the same time. "
Traces described in this study, which Shillito co-authored with Dr. Neil Davis during the last four winters, when severe storms and storm surges have led to periods of disintegration of sandstone and mudstone rocks were found.
In the Cretaceous, the area where the traces are likely near water were found in the appendix to the tracks, a number of fossilized plants and invertebrates were also detected.
"In order to save tracks, you need the right type of environment," Davis said. "The soil should be" sticky "so that the trace leaves a trail, but not so wet that it will wash off. You need this balance in order to capture and save them. "
"Just as the great wealth and diversity of these prints, we see quite incredible detail," said Shillito. "You can clearly see the texture of the skin and scales, as well as four-toed claws, which are very rare.
"You can get some idea about what the dinosaurs did their form of prints – by comparing them with what we know about dinosaurs foot from other fossil reveal the important features in common. When you look at the footsteps of the other places, you can begin to pieces, what kinds were key players ".
As part of his research, Shillito, examines how dinosaurs may have affected the river flows. Currently, large animals such as hippos and cows can create small channels by diverting part of the river flow.
"Given the enormous size of many dinosaurs, it is very likely that they will affect the river in this way, but it's hard to find" hot gun ", as most of the tracks would be simply washed away," said Shillito. "However, we see some smaller-scale proof of their influence; in some of the deeper you can see traces of undergrowth plants that grow. We also found evidence of footprints along the banks of river channels, so it is possible that dinosaurs played a role in the creation of these channels ".
It is likely that there are still many traces of dinosaur hidden inside a broken sandstone cliffs of East Sussex, but the construction of sea defenses in the area, to slow or prevent the process of coastal erosion may mean that they remain closed inside the rock.
The study was funded by the Scientific Council of the environment (NERC).