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Tyrannosaur Leaves Trail Behind, Reseachers Look For Clues

First Posted: Jan 18, 2016 11:59 AM EST

A tyrannosaur from 66 million years ago left a fossilized foot trail behind in a small Wyoming town. This engraved, cemented foot trail is enabling paleontologists from the University of Alberta to study the mechanics and geology of the ancient foot print. Scott Persons, a paleontologist viewed the tracks while visiting the Glenrock Paleon Museum.

"Before Glenrock, for me paleontology was dinosaurs in books and their skeletons in display halls and behind glass cases," Persons, said in a news release. "This was the first time I got my hands dirty in the field and in a fossil preparation laboratory."

The fossilize track entails three massive toe imprints, where each had a sharp claw tip.

"At first, it looked like a prehistoric pothole," Persons said.

After observing the enormous foot prints during his visit to the Paleon, Persons was intrigue by the fossil. Thus he reached out to the museum and suggested them to pursue a detailed scientific study of the track. The footprints' sharp claws and its other features indicated that the prints belonged to a large carnivorous dinosaur. The trackways's age and geology also indicated that the prints most likely belonged to a tyrannosaurid species of dinosaurs.

"Having a trail of tracks is important. With it, you can calculate an estimate of how fast the tyrannosaur was walking," Persons said.

The researchers found that the tyrannosaur slow trotted at an average pace of 4.5 and 8 km per hour.

The prehistoric tracks are on public display in the Glenrock Paleon MuseumThe findings of this study were published in the Cretaceous Research.

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