A TEAM of researchers from the University of La Rioja have found a site of swimming dinosaur prints in northern Spain- of which there is very little evidence in the world.
Paleontologist Pablo Navarro Lorbes discovered the site in the La Rioja town of Laguna de Cameros with help from the municipality’s residents in 2020.
He has since worked on these ichnites- fossilised footprints- and written an article published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research; which he also made part of his doctoral thesis.
The researcher said on Tuesday that there are only a few dozen sites of ichnites in the world of swimming dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous, dated between 145 and 100 million years ago.
Other data provided by this work shows they are dinosaurs that did not know how to fly and had three fingers, which rules out the possibility that they were large crocodiles, which have four.
In this case, the researcher believes these are possibly traces of spinosaurids that were trying to overcome the mass of water that occupied this area at that time and that developed different forms of swimming.
The Laguna de Cameros ichnites are located on one of the escarpments of the Leza River, an abrupt area that during the Early Cretaceous, according to analysis of the layers of the terrain, was an abandoned meander covered with water.
Navarro Lorbes said: “They are not prints compatible with a normal terrestrial movement of the species that lived in this area,” and added that the length of the footprints also supports this thesis, since it is variable (from 8.5 centimetres up to 29.2 centimetres).
Its dimensions depend on the posture and movements made by the dinosaurs when they hit the bottom.
The morphology of the footprints also shows that the dinosaurs, between two to four metres long, were in the water, because the ichnites show drag marks.
“We cannot be sure which species of dinosaurs left these swimming tracks since the ichnites do not offer enough data to identify a specific one,” said Navarro Lorbes, who added that the difference between these tracks may mean there are different species or younger individuals and other adults of the same nature.