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Dinosaur footprints in UK to be protected

A trackway in Oxfordshire preserving dinosaur footprints, formed 165 million years ago, has been notified as the first site in Britain to be given special protection for its geological features alone.

world Updated: Jan 20, 2010 19:12 IST

A trackway in Oxfordshire preserving dinosaur footprints, formed 165 million years ago, has been notified as the first site in Britain to be given special protection for its geological features alone.

Natural England -- UK's environment body -- has designated Ardley Track ways, housing fossilised footprints formed by a herd of Jurassic dinosaurs moving along part of an ancient shoreline, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The track ways include footprints of large, vegetarian dinosaurs related to Brachiosaurus and of carnivorous dinosaurs similar to Tyrannosaurus, according to an official release by the Natural England -- the independent advisor on natural environment to the government.

Research conducted over the last decade has revealed important information about these dinosaurs and even shed light on the speed at which the creatures were travelling, the release said.

Now, the tracks need to be protected from exposure to the elements and damage from erosion as such extensive and relatively complete dinosaur footprints are very rare.

"Geological sites of this quality and importance are few and we are delighted to give this important window on our past the protection that it so clearly deserves," said Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England.

"It is important that we continue to look after internationally valuable resources of this type and protect such fascinating insights into our ancient past," she said.