Scientists Discover Perfectly Preserved Dinosaur Footprints with Skin

The discovery is a big deal as less than 1% of dinosaur fossils found show skin traces.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Paleontologists have stumbled on five perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints with skin in Korea. The discovery is a big deal as less than 1% of dinosaur fossils found show skin traces.


Perfect skin impressions

"These are the first tracks ever found where perfect skin impressions cover the entire surface of every track,” said CU Denver Professor Emeritus of Geology Martin Lockley.

The footprints are believed to be from the smallest known theropod, the Minisauripus. They are only an inch long and were “exquisitely-preserved", as the scientists describe them, due to a layer of mud.

"The tracks were made on a very thin layer of fine mud,” Lockley explained, “rather like a coat of fresh paint only a millimeter thick.” 

The scientists speculate that the dinosaur was in a rainstorm right before the tracks were made. The team even found traces of raindrops in the tracks.

A medium sandpaper

Meanwhile, the texture of the dinosaur skin has been described as similar to medium sandpaper. However, the skin is covered with tiny scale traces woven like fabric.

The pattern, say the scientists, is similar to examples of mummified skin seen on the feet of ancient feathered birds from China. The shape of the feet, however, are quite different.

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The paper further reports the skin pattern as similar to examples from much larger, carnivorous theropod dinosaur tracks such as those from the more distantly-related giant brontosaurs. 

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

A mere six months ago, another team of paleontologists uncovered the fossil of a new dinosaur species in South Africa. The new species was called Ledumahadi mafube, which is Sesotho for "A giant thunderclap at dawn."

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