DinoDrones Find Pre-Historic Dinosaur Footprints Hidden in Australia Coast

A novel use of drones was found by paleontologists in Australia when they flew it around and hit a jackpot finding a 130-year old pre-historic footprints of dinosaurs. The prints were laid in Western Australia about 130 million years ago.

Dinosaur footprints (Photo: wikipedia.org)

The team from the University of Queensland hit upon the idea of a low-flying drone to get a clearer bird’s eye view of dinosaur tracks left on stones in a range of 200-km on the West Kimberley coast. They were able to find footsteps, otherwise hidden by jagged rock and difficult to find.

The project to use drones was part of the “Walking with Dinosaurs in the Kimberley” project undertaken here with government support and it will continue till the end of 2016.

“It’s allowing us to get up above some of the more interesting track sites, and get lots of good video footage, which is really exciting, and lots of fun,” said Steve Salisbury, lead author. That Now the footage taken by drones will be processed in labs with software prividing researchers a 3D image of the paths of sauropods and theropods, which roamed in the are during the pre-historic era. Scientists said the footprints show that sauropods left behind circular imprints and theropods had a bird-like, three-toed tracks.

The footprints, in their fossilized form, are spread over 60-km from the coastal town of Broome to James Price Point, in the Kimberly region. They were mostly hidden by native Aboriginal tribes in reverence. They had kept the findings secret till now fearing smuggling as in 1990, culprits drilled the entire footprint and taken it away to be sold in the black market in the 1990s.

The local Yawuru tribe believes that the footprints are linked to their mythological ancestors and keep tight-lipped about revealing them to outsiders. Now that they are revealed to the world, the tribe said they would cooperate in maintenance and protection of these footprints.

With drones, some unknown tracks are also found in the region for the first time. “There are a couple of new ones that have emerged on this trip, and sometimes it’s just mind-blowing just how much there is to document,” Salisbury said. The scientists were lucky to have found these prints as they are exposed just for few hours in the entire year due to tidal waves which cover the surface.

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