Archeologist Marie Woods, 29, was out picking some shellfish for her dinner on April 10 when she stumbled upon an enormous footprint, believed to be around 165 million years old.
Experts have now documented the find and believe it is evidence of the largest species ever recorded on the Yorkshire coast, and the most significant discovery since 2006.
Marie said: “All I wanted to do was grab some shellfish for my dinner and I ended up stumbling across this.
“I showed some paleontologist friends what I had found and none of them had seen it. It’s really exciting.”
University of Manchester paleontologist Dr. Dean Lomax believes the print is likely to have been left imprinted on a rock by a carnivorous dinosaur, probably a Megalosaurus.
Lomax said: “In short, this is the largest theropod footprint ever found in Yorkshire … We know this because the shape and three-toed track, along with the impression of the claws, are absolutely spot-on for having been made by a large theropod that probably had a hip height of about 2.4 meters and body length approaching 8 to 9 meters—so a real Jurassic giant.
“We can never be certain of exactly what species made it, but the footprint type would match the likes of a dinosaur found in Britain and called Megalosaurus, which lived at roughly the same time this footprint was created, during the Middle Jurassic.
“So, there’s no way to say that it was a Megalosaurus, but it is correct to say that it may have been made by a similar dinosaur to that.”
After Marie contacted local experts, it was found the fossil had actually been photographed by Rob Taylor, a local fossil collector, in Filey, North Yorkshire, in November 2020. The image had even been posted to Facebook. However, its significance was not recognized until now.
Marie and Rob both have finders’ rights to the footprint, and it is hoped it will now go on public display at the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough.
Lomax said: “Yorkshire’s coast is world-renowned for its dinosaur tracks, primarily through research by Dr. Mike Romano and Dr. Martin Whyte, who spent around 20 years researching and discovering hundreds and thousands of tracks.
“However, the previously largest specimen was found by John Hudson in 2006, and who has assisted Marie with measurements and photos of the recent find.”
Lomax said that, at the time when Rob took the photographs, the fossil “wasn’t fully exposed.”
“I, nor anybody else who had seen the photos, had realized just how amazing and important the find was,” Lomax said. “Only until Marie ‘rediscovered’ the footprint has the importance been recognized.
“I’m very grateful that Rob and Marie have made this discovery and hope that the specimen can be rescued for science.
“It will definitely make for a wonderful study and would look amazing on display, for the public to enjoy. ”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.