Feeds

Dino-boffins discover 100-million-year-old BIRD TRACKS in Australia

Aussie boffins' amazing claim

Boost IT visibility and business value

Two thin-toed tracks made more than 100 million years ago are proof birds wandered prehistoric Australia, according to palaeoboffins.

Photo of the sandstone fossil along with a drawing illustrating the track

Photo of the sandstone fossil along with a drawing illustrating the track. Credit: Anthony Martin

Emory University palaeontologist Anthony Martin spotted that the impressions in a fossil found at the aptly-named Dinosaur Cove on the coast of Victoria had a telltale fourth toe, making it more than likely that the creature that left the print was a bird.

"The track seemed familiar, like a face I had seen before but couldn’t quite identify," he said in a blog post describing the find. "Then I realised who it belonged to, and where I had seen many others like it. It was a bird track, remarkably similar to those in the sands and muds of the Georgia coast, made daily by the herons, egrets, and shorebirds."

While both birds and dinosaurs could be responsible for a three-toed footprint, there were very few lizards with a backward-facing fourth toe, called a hallux, used by birds to grab onto branches when landing. Any dinos that did have the hallux usually had an elevated vestigial one, which wouldn't show up in a print.

To add to the evidence, the hallux had left behind a long gouge, like the bird had made the mark when coming in for a landing on sand.

"Based on my years of experience with Georgia-coast bird tracks, the qualities of this fossil track were consistent with those in tracks made by similar-sized birds – such as small herons or egrets – that landed after flight," Martin said. "Ichnologists call such traces volichnia ('flight traces'), which are rare in the fossil record, but abundantly represented in soft substrates today wherever flying birds might live."

The fossil, a slab of sandstone, also contained two other prints, another with a hallux and one without, suggesting that two birds and a small dinosaur had all left their marks in the same spot. Because wet sand dries so quickly, the footprints would have to have been made very close to each other, possibly even on the same day, so the dino and the birds must have shared the same ecosystem.

The slab was originally found by volunteers from the Museum Victoria, Sean Wright and Alan Tait, who were out looking for more of the dinosaur bones that led to the cove's name.

Martin and his colleagues published their study, "Oldest known avian footprints from Australia: Eumeralla Formation (Albian), Dinosaur Cove, Victoria", in Palaeontology. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?