Science & Technology

Some 27 swimming dinosaur prints identified in Spain

Logrono, Spain, Oct 24 (EFE).- A team of researchers from the University of La Rioja found in northern Spain a site of swimming dinosaur prints, of which there is very little evidence in the world.

Paleontologist Pablo Navarro Lorbes discovered the site in the Riojan town of Laguna de Cameros with help of the municipality’s residents in 2020.

He has since worked on these ichnites and written an article published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research; which he also made part of his doctoral thesis.

The researcher said Tuesday that there are only a few dozen sites of ichnites in the world of swimming dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous, dated between 145 and 100 million years ago:

Other data provided by this work shows they are dinosaurs that did not know how to fly and had three fingers, which rules out the possibility that they were large crocodiles, which have four.

In this case, the researcher believes these are possibly traces of spinosaurids that were trying to overcome the mass of water that occupied this area at that time and that developed different forms of swimming.

The Laguna de Cameros ichnites are located on one of the escarpments of the Leza River, an abrupt area that during the Early Cretaceous, according to analysis of the layers of the terrain, was an abandoned meander covered with water.

I recognize that the discovery of the ichnites had a large element of chance, because in this area a landslide occurred and, shortly after, a resident of the town, with knowledge in this matter, saw the ichnites that had been exposed during a walk.

The author of the research said “they are not prints compatible with a normal terrestrial movement of the species that lived in this area,” and added that the length of the footprints also supports this thesis, since it is variable (from 8.5 centimeters up to 29.2 centimeters.) Its dimensions depend on the posture and movements made by the dinosaurs when they hit the bottom.

The morphology of the footprints also shows that the dinosaurs, 2 meters to 4 meters long, were in the water, because the ichnites show drag marks.

These 27 ichnites have heterogeneous shapes because factors such as the water level, the buoyancy force, the irregularities of the bottom, the water currents, the displacements of the center of buoyancy and the gravity and reaction force of the dinosaurs influenced the impression of the footprint on the ground.

“We cannot be sure which species of dinosaurs left these swimming tracks since the ichnites do not offer enough data to identify a specific one,” said the researcher, who added that the difference between these tracks may mean there are different species or younger individuals and other adults of the same nature. EFE


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