An ‘unprecedented’ 21 different types of dinosaur tracks have recently been found on a stretch of Australia’s remote coastline in the Kimberley region, with scientists dubbing it the nation’s Jurassic Park. Palaeontologists have said that it is the most diverse discovery in the world.
Palaeontologists also said that the tracks, found in rocks, are around 140 million years old. Researcher Steve Salisbury told the press that there were thousands of tracks in Walmadany in Western Australia and 150 of those tracks matched with 21 different types of dinosaurs. While five of 21 types were of predatory dinosaurs, six were of long-necked herbivorous sauropods, six were of armoured dinosaurs and four of two-legged herbivorous ornithopods. According to researchers, this is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia.
Salisbury, the lead author of a paper on the findings published in the Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, stressed that scientists created a silicon cast of sauropod tracks in Walmadany. “It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half of the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia’s dinosaur fauna during the early Cretaceous period,” he added.
Meanwhile, Goolarabooloo official Phillip Roe thanked scientists for their co-operation, saying that they spent more than 400 hours investigating and documenting dinosaur tracks in Walmadany. “We needed the world to see what was at stake,” he added. Roe explained that the dinosaur tracks actually formed part of a songline, which extends along the coast and then inland. According to him, the area helps us trace the journey of a Dreamtime creator, called Marala or the Emu man.
As per aboriginal Australians’ highly complex belief systems – popularly known as the Dreamtime, songline interconnects the land, spirituality, law, social life and care of the environment. Aboriginal Australians believe that songline is one of the paths across the land that mark the route followed by localised “creator-beings”. “Marala was the Lawgiver. He gave country the rules we need to follow. How to behave, to keep things in balance,” stressed Roe.
Salisbury said that the tracks were almost lost, with the Western Australian government selecting an area in 2008 as a site for a natural gas processing project. Alarmed, the region’s traditional aboriginal custodians – the Goolarabooloo people – contacted scientists to officially research what they knew was there.
A National Heritage listing was granted to the area in 2011 and the gas project collapsed in 2013.