4 Things That Dinosaur Tracks Can Tell Us

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4 Things That Dinosaur Tracks Can Tell Us

Dinosaurs are some of the most fascinating creatures in Earth’s past. When they walked our planet, some left footprints that eventually fossilized. In the modern era, we can still see some of these footprints, and paleontologists use them to understand dinosaurs further. Unearth four things that dinosaur tracks can tell us about these creatures.

1. What Their Feet Looked Like

A footprint is like a natural snapshot of the foot, and fossilized tracks indicate the shape of a dinosaur’s foot as well as its number of toes. Many sauropods had rounded, club-like feet, while theropods usually had three distinct toes and claws on each foot.

2. How They Got Food

Finding any animal’s tracks indicates where it’s been. By studying the footprints of a prehistoric species, paleontologists can better understand where a dinosaur got its food. If paleontologists unearth multiple footprints from a single carnivorous species near what used to be a shoreline, they may conclude that it ate fish.

3. How They Traveled

Dinosaur tracks can also tell us which prehistoric reptiles lived in groups and which ones lived solo lifestyles. When dinosaurs lived or migrated in groups, they would leave tracks, indicating that they traveled together. Alternatively, finding a single set of footprints would show that the prehistoric beast lived or traveled alone.

Dino Fun Fact

When paleontologists unearth a small set of footprints beside a matching set of large ones, they can deduce that a species raised and traveled with its young.

4. How They Moved

Tracks give us proof of how a creature walked. Scientists can determine this by comparing the fossil records of a species to the tracks to note the exact species; from here, we can gather information on how the dinosaur walked and the size of its gait.

For instance, if scientists discover tracks they believe were from a T. rex, they may first analyze the footprints with fossilized bone records. If the tracks align with the size and shape of the typical T. rex foot, we can conclude that the tracks came from this dinosaur. Then, paleontologists can study the pattern of the footprints—they’d see only a pair of footprints move close together, meaning the dinosaur walked on two legs.

Moreover, tacks can indicate how quickly a dinosaur moves. If all the footprints appear close together, the dinosaur was likely either running or naturally quick-moving.

Dino Fun Fact

Dinosaurs that walk on four legs have bipedal footprints, while four-legged dinosaurs leave quadrupedal footprints. “Bipedal” refers to the existence of two footprints with each step, while “quadrupedal” indicates four.

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