- Harsh storm surge revealed an abundance of well-preserved dinosaur footprints along the Sussex coast in the United Kingdom.
- A research team called the footprints a “treasure trove” that allows a look into the past to see how species interacted.
- The region is known for its numerous fossil findings.
Harsh storm surge caused by a slew of strong storms has uncovered an abundance of well-preserved and “incredibly detailed” dinosaur footprints along the Sussex coast near the town of Hastings in the United Kingdom.
A research team, whose findings were published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, called the footprints a “treasure trove” that allowed for a unique understanding of how the dinosaurs lived and interacted with each other.
“Usually you only get small pieces, which don’t tell you a lot about how that dinosaur may have lived,” said study leader Anthony Shillito. Whole body fossils are a far rarer find, he added.
“A collection of footprints like this helps you fill in some of the gaps and infer things about which dinosaurs were living in the same place at the same time.”
Of the prints found, some were left behind by marquee species, like the stegosaur, ankylosaurus and theropod.
“Parts of the Sussex coast have dealt with recent strong storms, including the ‘Beast from the East,’ which describes cold and wintry conditions in the U.K. as a result of easterly winds from Eurasia,” said weather.com meteorologist Brian Donegan. “The storms have caused a damaging storm surge and significant coastal erosion.”
Over the last four winters, upwards of 85 prints have been revealed — some of which are the best samples to be uncovered for decades.
“As well as the large abundance and diversity of these prints, we also see absolutely incredible detail,” said Shillito. “You can clearly see the texture of the skin and scales, as well as four-toed claw marks, which are extremely rare.”
The area surrounding Hastings is no stranger to dinosaur fossil discoveries. In 1825, the first known iguanodon fossil — one of the first three dinosaurs to be discovered — was uncovered by Dr. Gideon Algernon Mantell, according to the Natural History Museum in London.
More recently, the first confirmed sample of fossilized dinosaur brain tissue was found in the region in 2016, an article published by the Geological Society of London stated.
Countless additional footprints could be hiding beneath the rest of the cliffs, but with enhanced protection from coastal erosion, they’ll have to wait to be found.