Photo by: Peter Falkingham/Natural History Museum

Peter Falkingham/Natural History Museum

Dinosaur Footprints from 200 Million Years Ago Discovered in Wales

Members of the public found the former dinosaur “trampling grounds” while at the beach in South Wales.

January 04, 2022

On a beach in Wales, footprints were discovered that scientists believe came from a prehistoric dinosaur some 200 million years ago.

Paleontology experts from London’s Natural History Museum helped lead a study of the tracks, published in Geological Magazine. The prints likely belong to early sauropods or a close relative to the species.

"We believed the impressions we saw at Penarth were consistently spaced to suggest an animal walking. We also saw displacement rims where mud had been pushed up. These structures are characteristic of active movement through the soft ground," Professor Paul Barrett said in the museum’s announcement of findings.

The footprints were found on a beach in Penarth, South Wales by members of the public and first reported to the museum in 2020. They’re believed to date back to the Triassic period, between 201-237 million years ago.

"We know early sauropods were living in Britain at the time," said Dr. Susannah Maidment, a paleontologist at the museum.

The tracks cover an area about 164 feet long, and each footprint measures about 1.6 feet long. The volume of prints indicates the area was a “trample ground” for dinosaurs.

Artwork of a community of titanosaurs. The titanosaurs were a diverse group of sauropod (long-tailed, long-necked) dinosaurs that lived throughout the Mesozoic era. They were the last surviving sauropods, before being wiped out in the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. The group includes the largest animals ever known to have walked the Earth, with lengths of 30-40 metres and weights up to several dozen tonnes. The largest known among these animals are argentinosaurus and dreadnoughtus, from what is now Argentina, although their remains are very sparse.

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Digital animation of a herd of sauropods, the dinosaurs believed to have left the tracks at the South Wales beach.

Photo by: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Digital animation of a herd of sauropods, the dinosaurs believed to have left the tracks at the South Wales beach.

"These types of tracks are not particularly common worldwide, so we believe this is an interesting addition to our knowledge of Triassic life in the UK. The record of Triassic dinosaurs in this country is fairly small, so anything we can find from the period adds to our picture of what was going on at that time," said Barrett.

Scientists hope this discovery will reveal information about the dinosaur’s migration patterns and behavioral qualities around how they walked.

The museum said the footprints, which are already highly weathered, will continue to remain at the beach until they are washed away by the shore.

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