A dinosaur footprint dating back to the late Jurassic period was identified by Chinese paleontologists in Yibin, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on October 18. Photo: Courtesy of Xing Lida
Footprints of carnivorous dinosaurs from the late Jurassic period were spotted for the first time in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, with Chinese paleontologists saying the discovery was very valuable, as one footprint belonged to an apex predator of its time.
Paleontologists identified eight footprints, including five large footprints of eubrontes, one footprint of anomoepus and two footprints of grallator in Baihua county of Yibin, Sichuan, Sichuan-based Chengdu Business Daily reported on Thursday.
The largest footprint, one of the eubrontes, is 55 centimeters long and 43 centimeters wide, and the space between footprints was measured at about four meters, meaning it was likely a large carnivorous dinosaur which could move rapidly, Peng Guangzhao, a research fellow at the Zigong Dinosaur Museum in Sichuan, told the newspaper.
Xing Lida, a dinosaur footprint expert at the Beijing-based China University of Geosciences and leading member of the research team that identified the site, told the Global Times on Thursday that this dinosaur could be as long as 6.5 meters, and was an apex predator, making the discovery very valuable.
Most dinosaur footprints indicate dinosaurs walked slowly, but the one discovered this time was fast, probably in the process of a hunt, Xing said, noting that not a single dinosaur footprint found previously reflected a hunt.
"I'm not sure yet… We were really looking forward to discovering something like this," Xing said, noting that further research will be conducted on the footprints.
A post on China's social platform Sina Weibo led Xing to the discovery, in which a net user uploaded a video showing the footsteps. This caught Xing's attention after many netizens mentioned him under the post commentary.