Dinosaur Tracks Preserved on Scottish Island

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The Isle of Skye is known as Scotland's Jurassic Island because of the large number of dinosaur remains found there, and Clark is hoping the Skye beach will tell a larger story.

During the Middle Jurassic, which extends from roughly 180 to 160 million years ago, the supercontinent Pangaea began to separate. Skye was separated from Africa and Europe at the time by several huge mountain ranges, which would present a barrier to the dinosaurs. The same kinds of dinosaurs found in Skye may have roamed around in North America, he said.

Clark plans to return this winter to search for more tracks. In July over the course of about six days, winds pushed drifting sand over the tracks. The 15 discovered thus far have all been at the shallow end of the beach, buried under about five feet (1.5 meters) of sand. Clark expects a good winter storm to move the sand again, perhaps revealing more tracks.

"We have people here who will be watching, walking their dogs, and will keep us informed on what's happening," he said.

In the meantime, he and his team are taking molds of the footprints currently exposed, not excavating them.

"We're leaving them here so people can look at them and see them as they were," he said.

More National Geographic News stories on dinosaurs:
Fossil of Dog-Size Horned Dinosaur Unearthed in China
Tyrannosaurus rex Was a Slowpoke
Researchers Rethink Dinosaur Die Off Scenario
Researchers Melt Polar Dinosaur Mysteries
Scientist's Finds Spur New Thinking on Dino Evolution
Dino-Era Vomit Fossil Found in England
Study Paints New Picture of Dinosaur's Nose
Skeleton of New Dinosaur "Titan" Found in Madagascar
"Tidal Giant" Roamed Coastal Swamps of Ancient Africa
"Feathered" Fossil Bolsters Changing Image of Dinosaurs
Oddly Angled Teeth Make Masiakasaurus Stick Out

Additional dinosaur resources from National Geographic:
Paul Sereno: National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Dinosaur Hunter
Dinorama
Wanted: Albertosaurus
Dinosaur Eggs
Destinations: Dinosaur National Monument

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