Dinosaurs of Skye and Wyoming

This 2018 video about Skye is called Searching for dinosaur fossils in Scotland’s “real Jurassic Park”.

From the BBC:

Skye‘s dinosaur connection to US

Footprints found on Skye and in Wyoming, in the US, were left by the same dinosaurs or a similar species, recently-published research has found.

Dr Neil Clark, of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, said some tracks at the two sites were “indistinguishable”.

Great Britain and the United States formed part of the same land-mass hundreds of millions of years ago.

Dr Clark said further investigation into the link was needed.

The preliminary research by the curator of palaeontology and Dr Michael Brett-Surman, of the department of paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, is published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The scientists studied tracks from the Middle Jurassic – about 170 million years ago – found in rock formations.

Jurassic isle still has secrets

Analysis included measurements of footprints for comparison, looking at the length of digits and the distance between them.

Data gathered suggested that smaller footprints from the Valtos Sandstone and Kilmaluag formations on Skye were indistinguishable from those in the Sundance Formation in Wyoming.

Four different groupings of dinosaur footprints were identified and the scientists said they may represent at least four different types of animal.

Dr Clark said: “The footprints were indistinguishable to me. If they are not from the same species, they are a very similar kind of dinosaur.

“This was preliminary research, but opens up the potential for further investigation. It really needs a full-scale study.”

Dr Clark ruled out a mass migration of the dinosaurs as the distance involved was between 2,000 and 3,000 miles.

The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery holds collections covering medicine, Scottish art and science.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex and research organisation, composed of 19 museums, nine research centres, and a zoo.

See also here.

How did dinosaurs leave tracks in solid stone? Here.

7 thoughts on “Dinosaurs of Skye and Wyoming

  1. Far-flung dino? Wyoming, Scotland tracks cue study

    June 8, 2009

    By MEAD GRUVER Associated Press Writer

    LARAMIE, Wyo. — It’s a Jurassic curiosity: As far as anyone can tell, the fossilized, three-toed dinosaur tracks in north-central Wyoming and on Scotland’s coast are indistinguishable.

    Even after painstaking measurements and statistical analysis, University of Glasgow paleontologist Neil Clark can’t identify any differences between the two sets of 170 million-year-old tracks.

    “The fact that the footprints in Wyoming and the ones in Scotland are so similar suggest that they may have been produced by a very similar kind of dinosaur, if not the same species,” he said during a recent phone interview from his home in Glasgow, Scotland.

    If the same dinosaur species made the tracks, the discovery would be as earthshaking as a mighty apatosaurus. No one has ever been able to say for certain that the same dinosaur species was responsible for fossil tracks discovered at separate locations, much less thousands of miles apart.

    Now, American scientists are preparing to scrutinize the tracks further. They will use three-dimensional mapping technology that is revolutionizing the study of dinosaur tracks — and promises to enable scientists to make detailed, intercontinental comparisons without leaving their offices.

    “What we hope will eventually happen is that there will be this huge virtual archive that can be shared worldwide,” said Brent Breithaupt, a University of Wyoming paleontologist and head of the school’s Geological Museum. “Tracks can be looked at in three dimensions on computer screens and can be rotated around by various researchers — and can be compared.”

    Breithaupt doubts the same dinosaur species made the Wyoming and Scotland tracks.

    “The tracks are similar, that’s what we know,” Breithaupt said. “It more than likely indicates similar types of dinosaurs living at higher latitudes at some point in time.”

    But he’s more than happy to make comparisons.

    For one thing, precious little is known about dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic epoch, when dinosaurs cemented what would be a very long reign on Earth — and when both sets of tracks were made. Scientists have documented very few fossil dinosaur bones from that epoch in North America, making the handful of track sites in the American West valuable for understanding it.

    Also, Breithaupt has spent nearly a decade adapting photogrammetry — using photos to create maps and three-dimensional representations — to the study of dinosaur tracks. Now, he’s taking that work overseas.

    Most of the tracks Clark examined from the two locations ranged from about an inch long to more than 8 inches, and he compared details such as the length of each toe and the angles between them. He believes the tracks were made by a type of two-legged, carnivorous dinosaur called a theropod.

    One set is from the area of Red Gulch in arid north-central Wyoming, where it looks like a flock of Big Birds ran across freshly poured concrete. The others are near the shore of the Isle of Skye off Scotland’s west coast.

    Wyoming and Scotland were much closer together in the Middle Jurassic, before continental drift opened up the Atlantic Ocean between what is now Europe and North America. Even so, the tracks were roughly 2,500 miles apart when they were made — about the distance between New York and Los Angeles.

    Breithaupt and geographer Neffra Matthews followed up Clark’s Red Gulch visit by traveling to the Isle of Skye. They photographed the tracks there and plan to process those photos into three-dimensional images; they already have 3-D images of the Wyoming tracks.

    Matthews works for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Denver and is experienced in photogrammetry. She said the process has become much easier over the past 10 years with the improvement of digital cameras and software.

    Paleontologists already take digital cameras into the field, Breithaupt said.

    “All you have to do is take your camera and take from a couple different camera angles some overlapping photos,” he said.

    Clark maintains that the same dinosaur species possibly could have made the widely separated tracks, although he doesn’t necessarily think individual dinosaurs migrated that far. He published his findings in the Scottish Journal of Geology last year.

    “But that doesn’t mean to say this animal couldn’t range as a species over that distance. It’s quite possible that it did,” he said.

    He praised Breithaupt and Matthews for taking the next step.

    “Who knows what might show up? It might show me to be completely wrong,” he said.
    Copyright 2009 Associated Press.


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