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Scientists on the trail of Scottish T Rex

By Conor Riordan

Dozens of newly discovered giant dinosaur footprints on a Scottish island are helping to shed light on the Jurassic reptiles' evolution.

The 170-million-year-old tracks were made in a muddy lagoon off the north-east coast of what is now the Isle of Skye.

Most of the prints were made by the "older cousins" of Tyrannosaurus Rex, called theropods - which stood up to two metres tall - and by similarly sized long-necked sauropods.

These are the second set of dinosaur footprints found on Skye, with the first being discovered in 2015, although the latest discoveries were made in older rocks.

The find is considered to be globally important as it is rare evidence of the Middle Jurassic period, from which few fossil sites have been found around the world.

Dr Steve Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the field team, said: "The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find.

"This new site records two different types of dinosaurs - long-necked cousins of Brontosaurus and sharp-toothed cousins of T Rex - hanging around a shallow lagoon, back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance."

Researchers measured, photographed and analysed about 50 footprints in a tidal area at Brothers' Point - Rubha nam Brathairean - a dramatic headland on Skye's Trotternish peninsula.

The largest of the embed marks are 70cm across, left by a sauropod, while the largest theropod track was around 50cm across.

Tidal conditions made studying the footprints difficult, as well as the impact of weathering and changes to the landscape.

However, scientists still managed to identify two trackways in addition to many isolated footprints.

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