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Giant footprint 'could shed light on titanosaurus behaviour'

Okayama University of Science Professor Shinobu Ishigaki lying next to a dinosaur footprint in Gobi Desert. Image copyright OKAYAMA UNI/MONGOLIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Image caption The footprint measures 106cm (42in) in length and 77cm in width

The discovery of one of the largest ever dinosaur footprints could shed light on the behaviour of the prehistoric animals, researchers said.

Found in the Gobi desert and measuring 106cm (42in) long and 77cm wide, it is believed to be of a titanosaurus.

It was discovered in August in a geological layer formed 70 to 90 million years ago.

The print could help scientists understand the dinosaur's social behaviour and walking patterns.

Image copyright OKAYAMA UNI/MONGOLIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Image caption Here's a close up of the footprint

Shinobu Ishigaki, professor of palaeontology at Okayama University, and his team made the discovery in collaboration with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

"Firstly, it shows us the posture of the dinosaur- that it has a broad track way. If we continue to excavate more, we'll be able to find out more about how its walking style was like," he told the BBC.

The print formed when the dinosaur walked in what was once soft ground, he said.

The titanosaurs were a diverse group of giant, long-necked herbivores. They are thought to have been more than 30 meters (98ft) long and 20 meters tall.

Image copyright OKAYAMA UNI/MONGOLIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Image caption Part of the Mongolia-Japanese team that went to the Gobi desert

Three other footprints belonging to different species of dinosaurs were also found at the site.

Prof Shinobu Ishigaki said this might show us "social behaviour, because three other footprints were found walking in the same direction but they don't belong to the same species of animal," he said.

The footprints may also enable researchers to calculate the speed of the dinosaurs' movements.

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