A group of more than 20 polar dinosaur tracks have been discovered on the coast of Victoria, Australia, offering a rare glimpse into animal behaviour during the last period of pronounced global warming, about 105 million years ago.
The discovery is the largest and best collection of polar dinosaur tracks ever found in the Southern Hemisphere.
“These tracks provide us with a direct indicator of how these dinosaurs were interacting with the polar ecosystems, during an important time in geological history,” said Emory palaeontologist Anthony Martin, who led the research.
The three-toed tracks are preserved on two sandstone blocks from the Early Cretaceous Period.
They appear to belong to three different sizes of small theropods – a group of bipedal, mostly carnivorous dinosaurs whose descendants include modern birds.
The tracks were found on the rocky shoreline of remote Milanesia Beach, in Otways National Park.
One sandstone block has about 15 tracks, including three consecutive footprints made by the smallest of the theropods, estimated to be the size of a chicken.
The discovery has been detailed in the journal Alcheringa.