Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Woman discovers 'Jurassic giant' dinosaur footprint on Yorkshire coast
14 April 2021, 09:25
A woman has discovered a massive dinosaur footprint described as "a real Jurassic giant" on a beach in Yorkshire.
The fossil is the largest dinosaur footprint ever found in the historic county and was made when archaeologist Marie Woods was collecting shellfish along the coast.
Experts believe the marking belongs to a large meat-eating dinosaur that would have been around eight to nine metres long.
The print matched that of a Megalosaurus, which lived between 175 and 164 million years ago.
Ms Woods said was astounded to stumble across the enormous footprint and that she is hoping it will be saved before being washed away.
"I was grabbing some shellfish for dinner. I didn't collect much after seeing that," she said.
The exact location of the fossil is being kept secret.
"It's in a fragile state and sits close to the water level, meaning it could be lost to the sea.
"John Oxley [former city archaeologist of York] came to take a series photographs so that we could create a 3D model if collection isn't possible."
Ms Woods contacted specialists immediately after making her discovery, including palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax, the author of Dinosaurs of the British Isles.
Dr Lomax said the fossil turned out to be a rediscovery, as it had been partially spotted by fossil collector Rob Taylor last November.
However, Mr Taylor's images posted in a Facebook group did not show the print being fully exposed and, at the time, nobody realised its true importance.
Dr Lomax, who grew up hunting for fossils on the Yorkshire coast and has written extensively on dinosaur finds, said: "This is the largest theropod footprint ever found in Yorkshire, made by a large meat-eating dinosaur.
"We know this because the shape and three-toed track, along with the impression of the claws, are absolutely spot-on for having been made by a large theropod that probably had a hip height of about 2.4 metres and possible body length approaching eight to nine metres - so a real Jurassic giant.
"We can never be certain of exactly what species made it, but the footprint type would match the likes of a dinosaur found in Britain and called Megalosaurus, which lived at roughly the same time this footprint was created, during the Middle Jurassic."
He added: "Yorkshire's coast is world-renowned for its dinosaur tracks, primarily through research by Dr Mike Romano and Dr Martin Whyte, who spent around 20 years researching and discovering hundreds [to] thousands of tracks."
The doctor said: "I'm very grateful that he (Rob Taylor) and Marie have made this discovery, and hope that the specimen can be rescued for science.
"It will definitely make for a wonderful study and would look amazing on display, for the public to enjoy."
Local fossil specialist John Hudson, who found the previous largest specimen in 2006, helped Ms Woods with taking measurements of her find.