For any fans of Jurassic Park, now could be the chance to tread the same path as the prehistoric giants before us, after a set of well-preserved dinosaur footprints were unearthed on a beach off the south coast of England.
Engineers from the government’s Environment Agency were investigating how to reinforce sea defenses along the Yaverland seafront on the Isle of Wight, when they uncovered the fossils, according to a press release Monday.
“Dinosaurs existing right where our team is working brings old and new together – the modern challenges of combatting climate change with a period of time we can only imagine,” the agency’s regional flood and coastal-risk manager Nick Gray, said.
“We’ve all read the stories and seen the films, but this gives us just a hint of what life was like,” he added in the statement.
Experts believe the 125 million-year-old prints could be from a mantellisaurus, seven meters long and three-toed, which distinguishes them from other dinosaurs. Mantellisaurus were herbivorous and lived during the early Cretaceous period, which ended 66 million years ago.
The Environment Agency said the fossils were excavated in a vacation destination beside a beachside café, a car park and a bus stop. But while tourists have unknowingly been walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs, this type of discovery does not come as a surprise to experts.
Martin Munt, curator of the local Dinosaur Isle Museum, called the Isle of Wight the “richest dinosaur location in Europe.”
In the press release, Munt said 35 different dinosaur types have been found on the island, and that while they can’t be certain of the dinosaur species that made the prints, it is most “likely a mantellisaurus was here, not just in other parts of the south coast,” where they were assumed to be more common.
Displayed in London’s Natural History Museum is a mantellisaurus skeleton that was discovered on the Isle of Wight in 1917. It is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons in the UK, according to the Environment Agency.