Scientists have unearthed in Mongolia's Gobi Desert one of the biggest dinosaur footprints ever recorded, measuring over a metre in length.
The enormous print, which measures 106cm (42 inches) in length and 77cm in width and dates back more than 70 million years, offers a fresh clue about the giant creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago, scientists from the Okayama University of Science said.
One of several footprints discovered in the vast Mongolian desert, the huge fossil was unearthed in August by a joint Mongolian-Japanese expedition in a geologic layer formed between 70 million and 90 million years agoin the late Cretaceous Period, researchers said.
A drawing illustrating the dinosaur that may have left a footprint in Mongolia's Gobi DesertCREDIT:OKAYAMA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE
It was naturally cast, as sand flowed into dents that had been left by the creature stomping on the once muddy ground, news agency AFP reported.
"This is a very rare discovery as it's a well-preserved fossil footprint that is more than a metre long with imprints of its claws," said a statement issued by Okayama University of Science.
The footprint is believed to have belonged to a Titanosaur, a group of long-necked herbivore sauropods that lived in the Late Cretaceous period, and could have been more than 30 metres long and 20 metres tall, according to Shinobu Ishigaki, a professor from the Okayama University of Science, and the leader of Japan’s research team.
“A whole skeleton of a giant dinosaur that left such a massive footprint has yet to be uncovered in Mongolia,”professor Ishigaki told the Asahi Shimbun. “A fossilised skeleton of such a dinosaur is expected to be eventually discovered.”
“Footprints are living evidence of dinosaurs,” Masateru Shibata, a researcher with the Dinosaur Research Institute at Fukui Prefectural University, told the Japanese daily.
"There is a lot of information that can be obtained only from footprints, including the shape of dinosaur feet as well as the ways in which they walked."
Titanosaurs species range from the weight of a cow to the weight of a sperm whaleor more, according to scientists.
Several Titanosaur species are regarded as the biggest land-living animals yet discovered.
In 2014 remains of a gigantic Titanosaur were discovered in southern Patagonia, Argentina. According to palaeontologists, the Dreadnoughtus schrani, as the species was named, was the biggest dinosaur ever to walk the planet.