In prehistoric Scotland, real-life Nessies hung out at the beach. A huge cluster of footprints has revealed an old sauropod haunt on the Isle of Skye.The stomping ground, which was reported by the Scottish Journal of Geology, represents the largest dinosaur site ever found in Scotland – and the first sauropod tracks ever found there.
“The new tracksite from Skye is one of the most remarkable dinosaur discoveries ever made in Scotland,” lead researcher Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh said in a statement. “There are so many tracks crossing each other that it looks like a dinosaur disco preserved in stone. By following the tracks you can walk with these dinosaurs as they waded through a lagoon 170 million years ago, when Scotland was so much warmer than today.”
Based on the footprints, some of which are over two feet across, the researchers estimate that the dinosaurs were 50 feet long, perhaps weighing up to 20 tons. The creatures may have been early cousins of the beloved brontosaurus. Today the footprints look like tiny pits in the rocky earth. But 170 million years ago, the area was a salty, sandy lagoon – and the dinosaurs left their mark as they tromped through the water.
Scientists once assumed that sauropods were too heavy to support themselves on land and that they must have waded around in swamps all the time. Now we know that they were quite capable of carrying their own weight outside of the water, so scientists generally assume they stayed pretty dry. But it seems they may have enjoyed occasionally swamp time regardless. Brusatte believes they were probably there temporarily, to hunt or hide from predators.But whatever they were doing on the beach, their presence is a sign that we’ve got a lot to learn about dinosaur behavior.