Dinosaur Trackways in Western Australia (1)

The existence of dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point, near Broome in Western Australia, has been known (to western science at least) since 1952, although the first detailed published report was not until 1967 with the naming of Megalosauropus broomensis, based on theropod prints 53 cm in length.

Since then new sites have been found throughout the area as far north as Prices Point, including up to seven different track forms from sauropods, ornithopods, other theropods, and what have been described as possible stegosaur prints. The tracks all date to the Early Cretaceous, from around 110 to 120 million years ago.

Some of the trackways were cut out of the rock and stolen in 1996, including the ?stegosaur manus print. The tracks were known to the local aborigines, who considered them part of a sacred site, so the theft was felt by many people on different levels. In 1997 many more new trackways were discovered, the exact locations of which have not been disclosed for fear of further thefts.

Some of the track forms include:

Megalosauropus broomensis. Large theropod tracks 53 cm in length, from a creature perhaps 9 to 10 metres in body length.

Wintonopus sp. Similar to ornithopod tracks known from Winton in Queensland. 17 cm in length.

Sauropods. Up to 80 cm in length.

?Stegosaur. Five-fingered manus prints 21 cm in length, associated with three-toed foot prints. Only stegosaurs are known to have had this combination of five fingers/ three toes.

Dinosaur tracks known from Broome, Western Australia. Click for a larger image

Colbert, E.H. and D.Merrilees 1967 Cretaceous dinosaur footprints from Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 50:21-25

Dayton, L. 1991 Missing dinosaurs turn up in Australia . New Scientist 131:14

Glauert, L. 1952 Dinosaur footprints near Broome. The West Australian Naturalist 3:82-83.

Index of Trackways