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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Dinosaur footprint saved from tides
Dinosaur footprint
The fossilised footprint is well defined in the rock
A 170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint has been recovered from the bottom of a cliff in Yorkshire.

The fossilised footprint was discovered on a rock by an amateur geologist searching an isolated bay in Scarborough.

The rock is now in a museum after a coastal rescue team worked throughout the night to retrieve it.

Alastair Bowden, the Dinosaur Coast Project Officer at the Woodend Museum in Scarborough told BBC News Online: "It is absolutely superb... we have another nice set of footprints that academics can work on, and it is on open public display.

Coastal rescue team carrying the rock
The team worked overnight to save the rock

"Unfortunately due to foot and mouth we could not get the lifting equipment to the top of the cliff, so we had to make a one mile (1.5 km) walk along a slimy, rocky beach.

"It took two hours in the moonlight to bring the rock back, and the guys were dripping in sweat.

"Every two minutes they kept putting it down," he added.

The slab of rock is a metre long and 10 centimetres thick.

Tropical jungle

The footprint is thin and pointed with claw marks and a heel mark, showing that the animal must have been stationary.

Iguanadon: the most common fossil find

Mr Bowden thinks the creature left the print as it rested by a sandbank to drink, in what was once a dense tropical jungle.

The rock will be studied by two scientists from the University of Sheffield, who have already confirmed that it is a genuine find.

It is not yet clear what type of dinosaur left the print.

Mr Bowden said: "You expect hundreds more herbivorous dinosaurs, and the sorts we already have are the ancestors of an Iguanadon.

But this footprint has sharp claws which suggests a carnivore... so watch this space."

The fossilised rock might easily have been destroyed.

"The tides had already flipped it upside down and moved it," Mr Bowden added.

"We saw one man having a go at it with a hammer and chisel, he knew it was a dinosaur footprint... but hammering is a bad thing."

See also:

07 Jul 98 | Sci/Tech
New dinosaur discovered in England
08 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Island celebrates its dinosaur past
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Nose job for dinosaurs
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Dino skull fills knowledge gap
27 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Pit yields dinosaur remains
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