New Zealand’s first dinosaur footprints discovered

From Science Alert:

Dinosaur prints found in NZ

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

GNS Science

Scientists have found 70 million-year-old dinosaur footprints in northwest Nelson.

They are the first dinosaur footprints to be recognised in New Zealand and the first evidence of dinosaurs in the South Island. They were discovered by geologist Greg Browne of GNS Science.

Dr Browne found the footprints while investigating the properties of the rock and sediment formations in the northwest Nelson region. There are six locations over an area about 10km in length where footprints appear. At one location there are up to 20 footprints left by dinosaurs.

Dr Browne carefully considered all the possible geological and biological explanations for the features in the rock and was able to rule them out one-by-one. His investigation included comparisons with dinosaur footprints in similar aged rocks in other parts of the world.

He concluded that the most plausible explanation was the markings were made by sauropods – large herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and tails and pillar-like legs.

The footprints were made in beach sands and were probably quickly covered and preserved by mud from subsequent tides. …

The depressions are roughly circular in plan view, with the largest about 60cm in diameter. Most are smaller – typically between 10 and 20cm in diameter and were probably formed by dinosaurs between 2m and 6m in length and weighing several tonnes.

While paleontologists know that dinosaurs were present in ancient New Zealand, which they refer to as Zealandia, the record of their presence is very sketchy.

Dinosaur bones, mostly vertebrae, have been found at only three locations – northern Hawke’s Bay, Port Waikato, and the Chatham Islands.

First New Zealand record of probable dinosaur footprints from the Late Cretaceous North Cape Formation, northwest Nelson: here.

Korea: The world’s smallest baby dinosaur’s footprint measuring 1.27 cm by 1.06 cm has been discovered in Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province: here.

Were dinosaurs endothermic (warm-blooded) like present-day mammals and birds or ectothermic (cold-blooded) like present-day lizards? The implications of this simple-sounding question go beyond deciding whether or not you’d snuggle up to a dinosaur on a cold winter’s evening: here.

Fossil shark teeth in the Chatham islands: here.

Pleistocene footprints in Argentina: here.

3 thoughts on “New Zealand’s first dinosaur footprints discovered

  1. Pingback: New Zealand penguins | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: New Zealand conservation news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Dinosaur footprints discovery in England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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