For years, people were perfectly happy believing that the series of fossilised footprints in Australia’s Lark Quarry was all that remained of an epic dinosaur stampede. Then Science happened.
According to dream-killing researchers from the University of Queensland, the tracks were actually being misread for years; these fossils aren’t from a sudden prehistoric exodus but “a popular river crossing used by many dinosaurs over many years”. Lame.
Unfortunately, this explanation makes sense as it ties up a few lingering question about irregularities in the tracks. According to Anthony Romilio, a palaeontologist at the University of Queensland, lead author on the paper, and major buzzkill:
Many of the tracks are nothing more than elongated grooves, and probably formed when the claws of swimming dinosaurs scratched the river bottom. Some of the more unusual tracks include ‘tippy-toe’ traces – this is where fully buoyed dinosaurs made deep, near vertical scratch marks with their toes as they propelled themselves through the water.
In addition to the tiny, bouncing dinos, fully formed footprints indicate that larger ones may have shared the waterway—larger in this case being about the size of an emu. And they were all herbivores.
So what was once assumed to be a Jumanji-style, primordial rampage is now just a bunch of vegans doing waterobics in their free time. Thanks for nothin’, Science. [Geekosystem]
Image: Anthony Romilio