June 9, 2009
Did a three-foot-tall predatory dinosaur species make an ancient 2,500-mile migration between what is now Wyoming and the UK’s Isle of Skye about 170 million years ago? According to Hunterian Museum paleontologist Neil Clark, quite possibly yes. In the 1980s, a number of theropod footprints were found on the Isle of Skye. They closely resemble tracks that were later found in Wyoming. To see if they were made by the same kind of dinosaur, the tracks from Wyoming and the UK will be digitally scanned so they can be compared in detail.
As Brent Breithaupt of the University of Wyoming has noted, though, the tracks more likely mean that similar dinosaurs were living at similar latitudes at about the same time. A 2,500-mile migration, especially across an ancient sea, is a little hard to swallow and would require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, dinosaur tracks are usually given their own scientific names as they usually cannot be attributed to a particular species with certainty (that is, unless we find a dinosaur that literally died in its tracks). The scientists will continue to compare the tracks from Wyoming and the Isle of Skye, but a lot more evidence will be needed to confirm the idea that these theropods were migrating.
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