Thursday, July 24, 2014

Footprints of Tyrannosaurs Discovered in British Columbia

The tyrannosaur footprints discovered by hunting guide Aaron Fredlund were each more than 60 centimetres long. (Aaron Fredlund)
It would have been terrifying to run into a tyrannosaur like Albertosaurus. The massive creature that roamed western North America about 70 million years ago was as long as a bus, with a wide smile of razor-sharp teeth and claws to match. But here's the worst part — it probably wasn't alone.

Tyrannosaurs, it seemed, travelled in packs.

Scientists came to that conclusion after carefully analyzing an extremely rare find — three sets of tyrannosaur tracks found in northeastern B.C.

A researcher on Richard McCrea's team creates a mould of one of the tyrannosaur tracks for study. Another footprint is visible on the right.

Tyrannosaur tracks are so rare that this is the first time more than a single print has ever been found in one place.

That made the discovery exciting to begin with, since it allows paleontologists to see how the animal walked, said Richard McCrea, lead author of a new study in the journal PLOS ONE describing the tracks

The fossil tracks were discovered in the fall of 2011 by Aaron Fredlund, a hunting guide in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. He was guiding a group of moose hunters and looking for a place to cross a river when he spied a promising looking rock ledge.

Fredlund said he spends all day looking for animal tracks as part of his job. He had never seen dinosaur tracks himself, but knew others had been found in the region.


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