'Australia's Jurassic Park': World's Most Diverse Dinosaur Tracks Identified in Kimberley's Dampier Peninsula
A team of paleontologists from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences and James Cook University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences has discovered the world's most diverse dinosaur footprints in the Dampier Peninsula, dubbed as "Australia's Jurassic Park."
According to the study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the team discovered well-preserved dinosaur tracks that are so diverse, it almost covers the entire fossil record of dinosaurs found in west Australia.
The paleontologists discovered 21 different types of dinosaur tracks along the Dampier Peninsula coastline in Kimberley, West Australia. The said tracks are estimated to be 127 to 140 million years old.
"It's such a magical place -- Australia's own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting," said Steve Salisbury, lead author of the study, via UQ News. "It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period."
To identify the dinosaur footprints, Salisbury and his team worked for more than 400 hours of documentation. The paleontologists were contacted by the Goolarabooloo people, who wanted to show the significance of the place in light of a 2008 government decision to turn the area into a natural gas processing precinct.
Salisbury said that Walmadany is home to thousands of dinosaur tracks still left to be discovered. Currently, the dinosaur footprints are categorized into four main groups.
“There were five different types of predatory dinosaur tracks, at least six types of tracks from long-necked herbivorous sauropods, four types of tracks from two-legged herbivorous ornithopods, and six types of tracks from armoured dinosaurs," he explained via Science Daily.
Salisbury also noted that one track in particular is quite special as it is the "only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia."