Good Parenting Guide for Dinosaurs

Good Parenting Guide for Dinosaurs

Issued: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 00:00:00 GMT

The World's first ever evidence of a dinosaur mothering her young post-hatching has been discovered on the Isle of Skye. Dinosaur footprints found on a remote beach on the island reveal an adult ornithopod (bipedal plant-eating dinosaur) walking along a muddy lake edge, with up to ten smaller individuals.

The 170 million year old footprints were discovered by Staffin Museum curator, Dugald Ross, and hotelier, Paul Booth, last year. It is only now that Dr Neil Clark, Curator of Palaeontology at the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum, was able to confirm that the footprints were likely to be from the same species.

Dr Clark said: "It's extremely rare to find evidence of post-hatching parental care in dinosaurs. Most of the herding evidence comes from large Cretaceous sauropod dinosaur footprints in South Korea and the United States."

These Middle Jurassic footprints, measuring between 6 and 12 cm in length for the juveniles and 25 cm for the adult, suggest that the juveniles were probably less than one year old. Early research into the footprints indicate that the animals were moving in the same direction and were found on the same bedding plane, providing a strong indication that they were moving as a family group.

"To my knowledge, there are no other examples of ornithopod showing juveniles and adults moving as a group like this. There is certainly evidence of juvenile ornithischian dinosaurs with adults from the same geological horizon, but not with such a clear relationship."

The original sandstone block containing the footprints is owned by the Staffin Museum on the Isle of Skye awaiting display after the research has been completed.

For more details please contact Mike Findlay in the University Press Office on 0141 330-8593 or email: m.findlay@admin.gla.ac.uk.

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