Ancient dinosaur footprints found add to Thailand’s rich fossil record

A collection of fossilised dinosaur tracks have been discovered in Thailand. The footprints are 220-225 million years old, making them the oldest in Asia.

Thailand’s Department of Mineral Resources unearthed the footprints found in a layer of mudstone on the border between the provinces of Phetchabun and Khon Kaen about 350 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Geologists surveying dinosaur footprints in mudstone in thailand with plastic sheet
Credit: Adulawit Kawira via Thailand Department of Mineral Resources Facebook.

They were then analysed by a team of palaeontologists. A Facebook statement notes that the footprints belong to 5 different species.

Among them are theropods (bipedal meat-eating dinosaurs), sauropods (long-necked dinosaurs) and ornithopods (a group of large herbivores which include the “duck-billed” hadrosaurs).

The tracks are well preserved, revealing details such as toes, claws and soles of the dinosaurs’ feet.

Further study is planned to determine the species which produced the footprints.

The tracks are from the late Triassic period (252-201 million years ago). During this time, Earth’s continents were all merged into one supercontinent, Pangaea. The discovery of the footprints will provide new insights into the diverse dinosaurs which once roamed in Southeast Asia during this time.

Thailand rich fossil record has begun to be uncovered in recent decades. This includes an extinct alligator and the 8-metre-long predator Siamraptor.

Among the best evidence of dinosaurs in Thailand come from fossilised footprints.

Previously discovered trackways are about 100 million years younger than the recently discovered footprints having been made in the Early Cretaceous (145-100.5 million years ago). This includes tracks at the Phra Wihan Formation and the Phu Phan Formation.

Understanding of Late Triassic dinosaurs in Thailand could help fill gaps in palaeontologists’ knowledge of how dinosaurs in Asia evolved.

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