In the age of the dinosaurs, there were still some big living things throwing their feet around the earth since they left. However, these powerful trackways have some more moderate size impressions, such as a cat-sized baby stegosaur committed to the ground about 100 million years ago.
The fun-sized move was recently discovered in China, first stumbled upon by Lida Jing, an associate professor at Geosciences, a Chinese university in Beijing, and was published in the Palaois Journal. At just 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) long, it is the smallest print of the stegosaurus (a broad term for a group of dinosaurs that includes the stegosaurus). By comparison, the footprints of adult stegosaur are completely different.
Said University of Queensland researcher Dr Anthony Romilio in a statement, “This is in stark contrast to other stegosaur prints found on Chinese track sites, which measure up to 30 centimeters (1 foot), and prints are found in places like Broom in Western Australia where they can be up to 80 centimeters.” “As for Stegosaurus, this little dinosaur probably had spikes on his left back and bone plate as he got older.” Bug-eyed baby Dino paints a heartbreaking scene staring curiously at a dragonfly, imprinted on paper by an artist from stegosaur.
However, instead of a chance to cool a small stegosaur, the footprint brings more to the table. Although the print has three similarities to other known stegosaur footprints (three toe prints) it has been distinguished in a way that is quite confusing. Stegosaurs were heavy, four-legged dinosaurs that fell to the ground on all legs. This means that their prints preserved with an elongated appearance as their weight transferred over the limbs. The comparatively short form of the baby in comparison meant it was walking with heels from the ground a bit like a cat.
Said Xing, who found the print, in a statement, “This may be possible because it is the ancestral condition and posture of most dinosaurs, but stegosaur can also transform into heel-walking as they age.”
“A complete set of these tiny footprints will give us the answer to this question, but unfortunately we only have one footprint.” It would be complicated to find more prints to clarify this because the track in China is already crowded and it is often the smallest foot that gets lost in the crowd but researchers are optimistic. “Now that our study has identified nine different dinosaur track sites from the region, we will take a closer look to see if we can find more of these tiny tracks,” concludes Jing.
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