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Local history: Geologist describes two-footed dinosaur footprint he found on cretaceous coast at Folkestone Warren - Photos

Contributed by editor on Jun 03, 2013 - 07:10 AM


By Ray Duff

The first imprint of a two-footed dinosaur found in the UK by a geologist working at Folkestone Warren has been described at the Fossil Week event at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate over the weekend (1-2 June).

Dr Phil Hadland, of the Beaney Institute in Canterbury who made the discovery last year was exploring the rocky landscape off the Warren headland in 2012 when he noticed some blocks which had marks on them suspiciously like footprints. He took photographs of them and sent them off to Dr Philip Manning at London's Natural History Museum to obtain an expert opinion.

This was confirmed as a likely exciting new discovery and Dr Hadland then proceeded to further explore, measure and record the imprints on the stones in question. He also found other fossili imprints on rocks nearby which also indicated animal and dinosaur era activity from approximately100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Era.

Previously the area was well known for its ammonite (spiral/ridged sea creatures) and belemnite (squids) fossils in the gault clay layers below Copt Point and found well inland as well as the clay and chalk etc geology of Kent extends well into the Weald.


Dr Phil Hadland with two of his fossil discoveries. Photo: Ray Duff

The new dinosaur fossils though were found in the Lower Greensand blocks; actually in what are called the Maxilatum levels; just offshore at low tide.


The two footed one is the most important as it represents the first ever such in the UK. It is from a flightless bird about twice the size of today's Ostrich thus perhaps similar to the now extinct Giant Moa's.


The footprint though does not indicate the age of the animal which made it, nor what it actually looked like or what sort of bill it may have had. For that fossilised bones would need to be found to confirm such details.


Top photo... left: rounded fossil footprint. bottom left: Bubbler Crab fossil sand-cast. right: two-footed flightless bird fossil footprint. Photo:Ray Duff
Bottom photo...: Therapod (three toed) dinosaur footprint. Photo: Ray Duff.

Nearby was the Bubbler Crab fossilised sand-cast which indicates that such activity has been common amongst crabs species for the last 100million years, or more, as well.

It was found near the two-toed footprint and further helps indicate that back then, this area was in a likely warmer climate. It is also indicated by the fact that, due to continental drift, most of Britain was then situated near the equator.

The other fossil footprint found on the foreshore is of the three-toed 'Therapod', though this is very likely from earlier than 100million years ago, but still within a shoreline environment. It is also another very important find for Folkestone.

Footprints such as these, along with other dinosaurs, are only made under certain conditions where once made or an animal dies. They are quickly covered in more substantial material so as to eventually preserve them. It is due to this that only around 27percent of all animal and plant life that has existed on the planet is known about.

Dr Hadland, along with his colleague Dr Alisdair Bruce, gave an initial talk on these discoveries at the Fossil Week event at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate at the weekend.


They will be on display for the next few weeks and then it is proposed the fossils will be brought to the History Resource Centre at Folkestone Library for further display and hopefully talks.


© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2013

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