Brisbane: A team of palaeontologists has identified 150 tracks from 21 dinosaur species in Australia, the University of Queensland announced on Monday.
The discovery includes five different types of predatory dinosaur tracks, at least six types of tracks from long-necked herbivorous sauropods, four types of tracks from two-legged herbivorous ornithopods, and six types of tracks from armoured dinosaurs, the university said in a press release.
The diversity of the tracks is unparalleled, said Australian paleontologist Steve Salisbury, lead author of the study that was published in the 2016 Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Efe news reported.
“Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurus in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded. Some of the sauropod tracks are around 1.7 metres long,” he said in the statement.
Salisbury called the discovery “extremely significant” as it forms the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half of the continent and provides the only glimpse of Australia’s dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period.
The footprints were found in a rocky area, 127 to 140 million years old, in Walmadany, a region in western Australia containing thousands of dinosaur tracks, and which was listed as a National Heritage in 2011.
The newly-identified 150 tracks are older than most dinosaur fossils unearthed in the eastern part of Australia and which are thought to be between 90 and 115 million years old, added the release.
Members of the aboriginal group Goolarabooloo, traditional inhabitants of Walmadany, approached Salisbury and his team to research the tracks in the region after authorities chose the area to build a liquid natural gas processing plant.
These dinosaur tracks also form part of the Goolarabooloo’s songs about Marella, also known as Emu Man, a creator being whose ancient footprints they believe appear and disappear along the coastline.