Dinosaur tracks of 140 million years along the Jurassic coast of the United Kingdom

A large collection of 140 million-year-old dinosaur tracks (pictured) have been discovered in a quarry in Britain

Traces made by dinosaurs more than 140 million years ago have been discovered in a stone quarry in Britain.

More than 30 saucer-shaped impressions, some measuring almost three feet (0.9m) in diameter, were discovered by stunned workers at the Purbeck quarry in Swanage on the British Jurassic coast.

The newly discovered tracks were found only a few hundred meters from where 52 similar tracks were found 21 years ago.

Experts believe that both sets of impressions were made by the same herd of huge sauropods, the largest animal that has ever trod our planet.

These dinosaurs, which could live up to 120 years, would have traveled in groups through the shallow lagoons on what is now the south coast of England.

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A large collection of 140 million-year-old dinosaur tracks (pictured) have been discovered in a quarry in Britain

A large collection of 140 million-year-old dinosaur tracks (pictured) have been discovered in a quarry in Britain

The sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs.

The species, famous for its long necks and tails, dominates most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous.

Sauropods, which had relatively small skulls and brains compared to the size of the rest of their bodies, it stretched to 130 feet (40 meters) and weighed up to 80 tons (80,000 kg), 14 times the weight of an African elephant.

The animals would have left footprints in the soft mud along the coast that was then covered for millions of years by layers of rock.

Lewis Quarries at Langton Matravers was closed for 10 days, while paleontologists extracted the tracks after the discovery.

Earlier this year, we found a set of approximately 50 footprints made by sauropods and theropods on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

However, these date from 170 million years ago to the Middle Jurassic period, while the impressions of the Purbeck stone quarry are from the earlier Cretaceous period.

The sauropods (impression of the artist) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous.

The sauropods (impression of the artist) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous.

The sauropods (impression of the artist) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous.

More than 30 saucer impressions, about three feet (0.9m) in diameter, were uncovered by stunned workers at the Purbeck stone quarry in Swanage on the British Jurassic coast (pictured)

More than 30 saucer impressions, about three feet (0.9m) in diameter, were uncovered by stunned workers at the Purbeck stone quarry in Swanage on the British Jurassic coast (pictured)

More than 30 saucer impressions, about three feet (0.9m) in diameter, were uncovered by stunned workers at the Purbeck stone quarry in Swanage on the British Jurassic coast (pictured)

Lewis Quarries (pictured) was closed for 10 days, while paleontologists extracted the prints after the discovery. Earlier this year, a set of approximately 50 tracks made by sauropods and theropods were found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Lewis Quarries (pictured) was closed for 10 days, while paleontologists extracted the prints after the discovery. Earlier this year, a set of approximately 50 tracks made by sauropods and theropods were found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Lewis Quarries (pictured) was closed for 10 days, while paleontologists extracted the prints after the discovery. Earlier this year, a set of approximately 50 tracks made by sauropods and theropods were found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

WHAT ARE SAUROPODS?

Sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Upper Cretaceous.

They had long necks and tails and relatively small skulls and brains.

They stretched to 130 feet (40 meters) and weighed up to 80 tons (80,000 kg), 14 times the weight of an African elephant.

Sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Early Cretaceous

Sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Early Cretaceous

Sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs that dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Early Cretaceous

They were scattered: their remains have been found on all continents except Antarctica.

Their nostrils were high on their skulls, instead of at the end of their snouts like those of many other terrestrial vertebrates.

Some fossils show that these openings of the nostrils were so high above the skull that they were very close to the openings of the eyes.

Sauropods such as Diplodocus began to diversify in the Middle Jurassic about 180 million years ago.

Source: Palaeontology Museum of the University of California

Professor Michael Bennett of Bournemouth University, who oversaw the extraction at the Purbeck stone quarry, said: "The tracks are like giant saucer-shaped depressions that are up to three feet in diameter but only half an inch deep.

"They belonged to the sauropods, who were very large dinosaurs the size of double-decker buses and very gregarious, traveling in groups.

"The challenge for us was to extract the prints without damaging them and now that it has been achieved, the intention is to exhibit them in a museum, possibly the Etches collection in Kimmeridge. [a celebrated fossil collection].

"I've spent my life traveling the world in search of fossil footprints, so it's nice to find some on our doorstep."

The remarkable find comes 21 years after 52 tracks were discovered in a flat rock layer a few hundred meters away at Keates Quarry.

Professor Bennett said it is possible that the tracks belonged to the same sauropod herd as they moved along the coast.

The tracks were found in a quarry at Langton Matravers, near Swanage, on the Jurassic coast of Great Britain

The tracks were found in a quarry at Langton Matravers, near Swanage, on the Jurassic coast of Great Britain

The tracks were found in a quarry at Langton Matravers, near Swanage, on the Jurassic coast of Great Britain

The remarkable find (pictured) comes 21 years after 52 tracks were discovered in a flat rock layer a few hundred meters away at Keates Quarry

The remarkable find (pictured) comes 21 years after 52 tracks were discovered in a flat rock layer a few hundred meters away at Keates Quarry

The remarkable find (pictured) comes 21 years after 52 tracks were discovered in a flat rock layer a few hundred meters away at Keates Quarry

Professor Bennett said it is possible that the tracks belonged to the same herd of sauropods (impression of the artist) as they moved along the coast

Professor Bennett said it is possible that the tracks belonged to the same herd of sauropods (impression of the artist) as they moved along the coast

Professor Bennett said it is possible that the tracks belonged to the same herd of sauropods (impression of the artist) as they moved along the coast

The operations in the quarry had to close during 10 days while the extractions were carried out

The operations in the quarry had to close during 10 days while the extractions were carried out

The operations in the quarry had to close during 10 days while the extractions were carried out

"What is remarkable is that the tracks in both adjacent quarries were probably made by the same animals that moved along the coast," he said.

"The falling beds, bent when the European Alps were pushed up, means that the tracks are closer to the ground at Keates Quarry, where they can be preserved, but they are much deeper at Lewis Quarries where in situ preservation is not possible".

The tracks have been captured in three dimensions so that the tracks can be analyzed digitally and even printed in the future.

David Moodie, general manager of Lewis Quarries, said: "It became clear that we had found something of historical interest, so we contacted the National Trust and Professor Bennett.

"We had to close operations for 10 days while the extractions occurred, which was a challenge, but it was exciting to participate in the project and learn more about the dinosaurs that roamed here," he said.

The sauropods (footprints, in the photo) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs, which dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous

The sauropods (footprints, in the photo) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs, which dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous

The sauropods (footprints, in the photo) were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs, which dominated most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous

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