Highlands & Islands

'First' dinosaur footprints recorded on Scottish mainland

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Dinosaur footprint Image copyright Dr Neil Clark
Image caption One of the footprints found near Inverness
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Dinosaur footprints have been found preserved in rocks on the Scottish mainland for the first time, a leading palaeontologist has said.

Dr Neil Clark, vice-president of the Geological Society of Glasgow, discovered the prints at a coastal location near Inverness.

Previously, dinosaur footprints have only been recorded in Skye.

The new fossils may have been left by different dinosaurs in the Middle Jurassic about 170 million years ago.

The location of the discovery has not been made public to allow for further research at the site.

Dr Clark, who is curator of of palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, said: "I have frequently bemoaned the fact that dinosaurs have not been found elsewhere in Scotland.

"But I now have discovered some new dinosaur footprints in a completely different location."

Image caption Dinosaur footprints had only previously been found in Skye

He added: "They are from a completely new part of Scotland for dinosaurs and will add significantly to our understanding of dinosaurs of that age in Britain."

The site near Inverness contains fossilised impressions of footprints that are thought to be from several different types of dinosaur.

The size of the raised footprints suggests they were left by a member of the sauropod family of dinosaurs - huge, four-legged herbivores with long, slender necks that stood up to 18m (60ft) high.

Dr Clark has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £5,000 needed to search for and map dinosaur footprints across Scotland. The money will be used to buy a drone.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are to take part in the research project.

Image copyright Dr Neil Clark
Image caption Some of the dinosaur footprints found in Skye

Dr Clark made his find after attending a conference in Inverness in March.

He decided to walk along the coast and noticed dinosaur footprints on the shoreline.

He said: "I was pretty excited. I knew the significance of the find straight away."

About 170 million years ago, shortly after the supercontinent Pangaea began to break up, the land that is now the Isle of Skye was part of a smaller subtropical island.

Until the new discovery, Skye was the only place in Scotland where evidence of dinosaurs had been found.

It has more than 10% of the world's Middle Jurassic dinosaur species and more than 15% of the Middle Jurassic dinosaur sites.

The fossils found in Skye include more than 100 marks left by a lizard called Isochirotherium - also known as the hand-beast - 270 million years ago.

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