- The prints were discovered by chance during excavation work in Yaverland
- They are believed to belong to the 125 million year old Mantellisaurus
Engineers on the Isle of Wight got a surprise this week when they came across well-preserved dinosaur footprints.
The prints were discovered by chance in Yaverland during excavation work to strengthen sea defenses.
According to experts at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown, the three-toed tracks are believed to belong to a 125-million-year-old creature called Mantellisaurus, which measured an impressive 23 feet (seven meters) long.
“An adult Mantellisaurus would have been almost twice as long as an average car and would have marched slowly, thunderously, with large strides that clearly left their mark on time,” said Dr. Martin Munt, curator of the museum.
Engineers on the Isle of Wight discovered well-preserved dinosaur footprints
The three-toed tracks are believed to belong to a 125-million-year-old creature called Mantellisaurus (artist’s impression).
Environment Agency engineers made the discovery near the beach cafe in Yaverland.
Fossils are often found on the Isle of Wight.
The Mantellisaurus is believed to have weighed 750kg and walked around on its hind legs.
“We can’t be entirely sure about the identity of a print, but the three-toed feet make it likely that a Mantellisaurus was here, and not just in other parts of the south coast where they were more common – or that’s what we know so far thought,” said Dr Said Munt.
The engineers who uncovered the footprints were on site to draw up plans to improve flood protection for more than 600 properties in Shanklin and Yaverland.
Nick Gray, the Environment Agency’s flood and coastal risk manager for the Solent and South Downs region, said: “Dinosaurs living exactly where our team work bring together the old and the new – the modern challenges of tackling climate change with a period of that we will overcome.” I can only imagine.
“We’ve all read the stories and seen the movies, but that only gives us a glimpse of what life was like.”
The engineers who uncovered the footprints were on site to improve flood protection for more than 600 properties in Shanklin and Yaverland
Experts hope the find will cement the Isle of Wight as the dinosaur capital of Britain.
Stuart Noon, head of heritage at maritime defense firm JBA Consulting, added: “This represents an extremely important and significant discovery for the project, as the discovery of the new footprints makes it clear that the land on which the dinosaurs walked is likely to extend the entire length of Yaverland Beach.”
“The latest conquest cements the Isle of Wight as Britain’s dinosaur capital.”
The discovery comes shortly after the remains of what may be the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe were unearthed on the Isle of Wight.
Paleontologists say the giant crocodile-faced dinosaur – which at 32.8 feet (10 meters), was almost the size of a London bus – lived 125 million years ago and weighed several tons.
The “giant slayer” was one of the spinosaurids, the first known dinosaurs that could swim, and therefore may have been able to hunt both in water and on land.
It would have lived at the beginning of a period of rising sea levels, roaming lagoons and sand flats in search of food.
How the dinosaurs died out around 66 million years ago
About 66 million years ago, dinosaurs ruled and dominated the earth before they suddenly went extinct.
This mass extinction is known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.
For many years it was believed that climate change was destroying the giant reptiles’ food chain.
In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.
This is an element that is rare on Earth but is found in large quantities in space.
When this was dated, it coincided exactly with the point in time when dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.
A decade later, scientists discovered the giant Chicxulub crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates to this period.
Scientific consensus now holds that these two factors are linked and both were likely caused by a giant asteroid crashing into Earth.
At the predicted size and impact speed, the collision would have caused an enormous shock wave and likely triggered seismic activity.
The fallout would have created ash clouds that likely covered the entire planet, making survival of the dinosaurs impossible.
Other animal and plant species had a shorter time between generations, which allowed them to survive.
There are several other theories as to what caused the famous animals’ demise.
One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs, and another is that poisonous angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them.