Page last updated at 00:32 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Skye's dinosaur connection to US

Bison in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Bison roam Wyoming where dinosaur tracks have been found

Footprints found on Skye and in Wyoming, in the US, were left by the same dinosaurs or a similar species, recently-published research has found.

Dr Neil Clark, of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, said some tracks at the two sites were "indistinguishable".

Great Britain and the United States formed part of the same land-mass hundreds of millions of years ago.

Dr Clark said further investigation into the link was needed.

The preliminary research by the curator of palaeontology and Dr Michael Brett-Surman, of the department of paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, is published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The scientists studied tracks from the Middle Jurassic - about 170 million years ago - found in rock formations.

If they are not from the same species, they are a very similar kind of dinosaur
Dr Neil Clark
Hunterian Museum

Analysis included measurements of footprints for comparison, looking at the length of digits and the distance between them.

Data gathered suggested that smaller footprints from the Valtos Sandstone and Kilmaluag formations on Skye were indistinguishable from those in the Sundance Formation in Wyoming.

Four different groupings of dinosaur footprints were identified and the scientists said they may represent at least four different types of animal.

Dr Clark said: "The footprints were indistinguishable to me. If they are not from the same species, they are a very similar kind of dinosaur.

"This was preliminary research, but opens up the potential for further investigation. It really needs a full-scale study."

Dr Clark ruled out a mass migration of the dinosaurs as the distance involved was between 2,000 and 3,000 miles.

The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery holds collections covering medicine, Scottish art and science.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum complex and research organisation, composed of 19 museums, nine research centres, and a zoo.

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