Did I saw a dinosaur?
August 17, 2015 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Found this footprint shaped hole in a rock at the beach. Is it a dinosaur footprint?

We were walking along East Quantoxhead beach, Somerset, England, when my son and I noticed an interesting looking shape in the rocks. I didn't get much of a chance to look at it before the tide gobbled it up but I did manage to snap a quick photo.

The beach itself is teeming with fossils -- plenty of ammonites -- but the only known footprints I'm aware of in Britain are iguanodon. Could it possibly be a dinosaur footprint? Or is it more likely Sasquatch?
posted by popcassady to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I know you can email the pic to the natural history museum in NYC cosm@anhm.org for identification. Ditto the natural history museum in LA (info@nhm.org.)

Pretty sure whatever institution that's in your neck of the woods would love to know about this find. Contact them!
posted by jbenben at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 1) There are dino tracks in the UK. Not just the Isle of Wright, but also near Oxford, and in some of the clays and sands of the Cretaceous and Jurassic.

2) With the size (using your son's feet for scale), shape, the geology of the locality (Jurassic), the matrix, and particularly the bottom of the mold, my first instinct is not a dino track but a cavity, or rough mold fossil, of a crinoid crown. Here's a (bad) picture from the NHM of just such a crinoid crown from that period and strata: pic

But! I'm not a VP, so of course that would be my first impulse and if you had tracks it's possible to get weird shapes from the weight on mud or overlapping tracks, it could be other reptile like animals, etc. However: the matrix looks like limestone or possibly limey mudstone, probably from the lower Jurassic Blue Lias. The Blue Lias is too deep for dinosaurs, particularly if you found ammonites in the same layer of strata. East Quantoxhead is the global stratotype locality of the Sinemurian stage of the lower Jurassic, with ammonites, a shallow to deep marine organism, as the paleontological marker for age determination. (Exact GSSP of the locality here.)

While dinosaurs are found in the Lias, especially in stratigraphy that is equivalent to near-shore sheltered lagoons, bones in the deeper marine stratigraphy were washed out to sea. So. . .not ruling that out, but the probability is high that it's the mold of a marine organism rather than a dino.

2) If you want to know for sure, contact the Natural History Museum London. I suggest Emma Bernard.
posted by barchan at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2015 [31 favorites]

Best answer: Ah, here's a good pic in which you could visualize how the cavity left by a crinoid crown could leave a dino track shaped hole, particulaly with the cup at the base of the crown leading down to the stem, which is similar to the base of the "track" in your photo.
posted by barchan at 9:50 AM on August 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

FWIW the picture link just takes me to the TinyPic main page.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:40 AM on August 20, 2015

And here I thought Crinoid was a word made up by the writers of Dr. Who. Banner day for learning, thanks!
posted by lumpenprole at 9:22 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

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