sábado, 24 de septiembre de 2011

Palaeontology - Dinosaur skeleton preserved with its own footprint

It’s one thing to find a whole dinosaur skeleton, but quite another to discover it’s been buried with its own footprint. 

Out of millions of dinosaur fossils found around the world, this one is the first of its kind [Credit: Mail Online]

In a unique find, Polish palaeontologists found a perfectly preserved print next to the skeleton of an 80million-year-old Protoceratops, which was dug up in 1965 in Mongolia. 

The specimen, complete with surrounding rock, had been on display for the past 50 years at a museum in Poland, but amazingly no one had spotted the footprint. 

Then Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki and Tomasz Singer prepared it for display at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and made the extraordinary chance discovery. 

Dr Phil Manning, a palaeontologist at the University of Manchester, describes the find as ‘gobsmackingly amazing’ and also ‘bloody useful’. 

He told MailOnline: ‘This was the last footprint that it ever made and it’s so useful because it tells us about the geometry of the animal’s flesh, in the same way that if you took a human skeleton hand and pressed it into mud you’d be able to tell something about how thick the fingers were.’ 

The footprint will tell palaeontologists about the nature of the animal's soft tissue [Credit: Mail Online]

He explained that out of millions of fossils found all over the world, this is the first discovery of its kind and should serve as a warning to other palaeontologists. 

Unfortunately, they often discard surrounding rock from skeletons while preparing them for displays. 

Dr Manning added: ‘It should mean that if people are excavating a find in the future they should be on the lookout.’ 

Niedzwiedzki and Singer's discovery was reported in the journal Cretaceous Research. 

The Protoceratops was a vegetable-eating dinosaur about the size of a sheep that experts believe lived in herds during the Cretaceous Period. 

 Source: Mail Online 

The Archaeology News Network

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