Unveiling Jurassic Dinosaur Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye

March 8, 2024

An incredible breakthrough in paleontology has unfolded on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, where an international team of paleontologists from the University of Edinburgh, Staffin Museum, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has unveiled a new dinosaur tracksite at Ruƅha naм Brathairean (Brothers’ Point).

Unveiling Jurassic Dinosaur Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye – PaintxWiki

The site, dating back approximately 170 million years to the Middle Jurassic period, offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, showcasing a variety of dinosaur footprints left in the muddy and shallow lagoon of that era. Among the tracks are numerous small sauropod prints, as well as several isolated and broken medium-to-large theropod footprints.

The sauropod prints suggest the presence of large dinosaurs standing at a height of 5-8.2 feet (1.5-2.5 m) at the hip. While not as colossal as species like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, they nonetheless played a significant role in the local ecosystem. Coexisting in the same lagoonal environment were medium-sized theropods, estimated to have hip heights ranging from 2.9 to 7 feet (0.87-2.13 m).

Unveiling Jurassic Dinosaur Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye – PaintxWiki

Dr. Steve Brusatte, a member of the research team from the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, expressed excitement about the findings, noting, “The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find.

This new site records two different types of dinosaurs—long-necked cousins of Brontosaurus and sharp-toothed cousins of Tyrannosaurus rex—hanging around a shallow lagoon, back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance.”

This discovery holds significance beyond its local context, offering rare evidence of the Middle Jurassic period, which has seen few fossil sites discovered worldwide. Paige dePolo, another team member from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences, highlighted the importance of the find, stating, “This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye.

Unveiling Jurassic Dinosaur Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye – PaintxWiki

It was found in rocks that were slightly older than those previously found at Duntulm on the island and demonstrates the presence of sauropods in this part of the world through a longer timescale than previously known. This site is a useful building block for us to continue fleshing out a picture of what dinosaurs were like on Skye in the Middle Jurassic.”

Despite challenging conditions, the researchers meticulously measured, photographed, and analyzed approximately 50 footprints at the site, identifying two trackways and numerous isolated footprints.

This groundbreaking discovery provides invaluable insights into the diverse array of dinosaurs that once roamed the Isle of Skye, contributing to our understanding of prehistoric life and enriching our vision of the remarkable creatures that once inhabited our planet.