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Aberdeen geologists step back 175 million years in time for open day

Date: 26 August 1999
Our ref: 463

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen have discovered a series of fossil footprints made by dinosaurs some 175million years ago.

The footprints, ranging from 10cm (4”) to 25cm (10”) across were discovered in a recent cliff fall on a beach north of Scarborough, Yorkshire.

They were found by Dr Gordon Walkden and Dr Mike Simmons of the University’s Department of Geology during a Petroleum Geology field course being run for fourth year students at the University.

The students helped to release the loose blocks of rock that contained the fossils from the rubble on the beach and, after careful trimming by Dr Walkden, students took turns in lifting the blocks up the cliff.

The blocks have now been cleaned of mud and further trimmed and the public will see them for the first time when they go on display as part of the Open Day being held by the Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology on Wednesday, September 1.

Dr Walkden said the new footprints will be featured in an article to be published in a scientific journal next year.

“Several different types of dinosaur made the footprints as they walked along a muddy shoreline that looked similar to the Ythan Estuary today,” he said.

“Some were made by meat-eating hunters, which left clear impressions of long, sharp claws. One particular impression shows that these dinosaurs had an extra claw high up on the foot, a bit like cats do today. Only when the foot sank deep into mud did this extra claw leave an impression.”

The open day is open to the general public as well as potential students and will take place in the Geology Department in the Meston Building, Old Aberdeen, from noon until 6pm. Anyone who would like to preview the fossil footprints, or who has a rock, fossil or mineral specimen they would like a geologist to identify will be most welcome.

ENDS
 

Further information

Dr Gordon Walkden, Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology  (01224) 273455
Christine Cook, Executive Director of Public Relations    (01224) 272014
Alison Ramsay on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email a.ramsay@admin.abdn.ac.uk.