It must have been a giant – and it lived on a very big foot: the largest dinosaur foot found in the USA measures almost one meter – a new record.
Munich (dpa) – Researchers have identified the world’s largest foot of a dinosaur. An international team with the participation of Munich researchers examined the petrified foot, which was discovered 20 years ago in the US state of Wyoming.
The researchers from Germany, Switzerland and the USA write in the journal “PeerJ” that it is almost one meter wide and therefore larger than all previously known finds. They indicate that larger footprints are known, but no larger foot.
Among other things, due to the metatarsal bone, the researchers classify “Bigfoot” as a close relative of the Brachiosaurus. With their long necks and tails, these dinosaurs were known in the 1993 film Jurassic Park. In addition to the herbivorous Brontosaurus and the genus Diplodocus, they were among the largest land animals that have ever lived on this planet. Few other dinosaurs, such as the Argentinosaurus or the Patagotitan, were larger, both 40 meters long and weighing 70 to 90 tons.
According to the measurements, “Bigfoot” should have been four meters high at the pool. It could have been at least ten meters tall and weighed around 30 to 40 tons.
Anthony Maltese, lead author of the study, had excavated the foot in 1998. It was just as inappropriate for an almost complete small Brachiosaurius found in the same place as for a small Diplodocus. It was immediately clear that the piece came from an extremely large animal, Maltese writes. Therefore, the copy was nicknamed “Bigfoot”.
Researchers Maltese, Emanuel Tschopp, Femke Holwerda and David Burnham now used 3D scans and other detailed measurements to compare the find with sauropod feet of numerous species.
They also found that the Dinos of the Brachiosaurus group inhabited a vast area from eastern Utah to northwestern Wyoming 150 million years ago. “This is surprising,” said Swiss paleontologist Tschopp. “Many other sauropods lived in smaller areas during this period.”
According to the study, it is also one of the northernmost finds of a Brachiosaurus in the Morrison Formation, which extends to Canada in the western United States and contains numerous dinosaur fossils.
“The rocks from the Jurassic period in the western United States are very rich in sauropods. We know that there were very large animals there,” said saurian expert and conservator at the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology, Oliver Rauhut. Nevertheless, the find is very interesting. “It is absolutely fascinating that so many such huge herbivores have lived there without eating the landscape.”
The researchers hope for further finds on the rocks from which “Bigfoot” died millions of years ago. There are other “fantastic dinosaur skeletons” to be explored, said Maltese.