A girl from Wales has discovered a perfectly preserved 215 million-year-old dinosaur print, described as the finest of its kind found in 10 years.
Four-year-old Lily Wilder has been praised by scientists after making the finding on a beach at Bendricks Bay near Barry.
The girl, from Llandough, near Cardiff, made the fossilised rock finding when out walking with her father Richard, 47.
The print is just over 3.9 inches long and was made by a two-foot dinosaur currently unknown to science.
The creature that created it is believed to have stood about 75cm tall and 2.5 long, and experts have pronounced it the finest impression of a 215 million-year-old dinosaur print discovered in Britain in a decade.
Mum Sally, 38 said it was flawless and they initially thought it was a carving made by artists.
She said that Lily noticed it when they were walking along and said, “Daddy look”, and when her partner Richard came home and showed her the image, she thought it looked amazing.
She said that Richard thought it was too good to be true and she was put in touch with experts who took it from there. They weren’t even sure if it was real, and she was thinking that an artist had gone down and scratched it out, but she knew dinosaur footprints had been found along that piece of the coast before, so she just thought she’d ask some people.
She discovered this fossil identification page on Facebook and she posted it there and people went a tad crazy, and she said it’s all been so overwhelming, realising that it’s really what they believed it was.
It was investigated after Sally and her husband Richard reported the finding to experts, including palaeontologists, who specialise in dinosaurs.
Karl-James Langford, of Archaeology Cymru, called it the finest impression of a 215 million-year-old dinosaur print found in Britain in a decade, and he said that it was perfect and pristine and it was a wonderful piece.
He said that it was universally relevant and that’s why the museum took it, and he said that it was the best dinosaur footprint found in the United Kingdom in the past ten years.
A spokesperson from the National Museum in Cardiff said the detail in the fossil was of great importance to science, and that its magnificent preservation may help scientists establish more about the actual structure of their feet as the preservation was clear enough to show individual pads and even claw impressions, but where is David Attenborough when you need him?
Geology is a science of disentangling mysteries written in the rocks, but dating fossilised footprints is a special kind of challenge, but stratigraphic principles and careful thought can identify these distinct footprints as 190 years old, created by a prehistoric spider out for a stroll.
Trace fossils are useful for palaeontologists because they tell us about the activity of ancient organisms.
For example, the study of dinosaur footprints has added significantly to the understanding of dinosaur behaviour, and palaeontologists have learned much more about dinosaur behaviour from footprint trace fossils than from dinosaur body fossils, and from numerous sets of dinosaur footprints or tracks, scientists have discovered that some species of dinosaurs roamed in large groups or herds.
Sets of tracks have also shown that some herds protected their young by keeping them in the centre of migrating groups. Other tracks reveal that dinosaurs didn’t drag their tails when they walked, and palaeontologists can also estimate dinosaur gait and speed from some footprint trackways. If the footprints are close together, this might show they were running. If the footprints are spaced further apart, the dinosaurs may have been walking.