Over 1,000 Dinosaur Footprints Found in Tiny Town in Just 10 Days

Over 1,000 dinosaur footprints have been discovered by scientists in a small town in northern Chile over the course of just under two weeks.

The tiny town of Huatacondo now has the highest concentration of dinosaur footprints of anywhere else in the country, ADN Radio Chile reported.

Dinosaur footprints can tell paleontologists a lot. The footprints reveal something about the dinosaurs who left them that fossilized bones cannot: their behavior. Additionally, the fossils reveal information about the environment and climate of the era and area that those dinosaurs lived in.

For one thing, the conditions required for footprints to fossilize at all are very specific, meaning that the researchers can deduce many details just from the fact that the casts exist in the first place.

dino print
Researchers have found over 1,000 "incredible and unique" dinosaur footprints in a small Chilean town. The above stock photo shows an example of a fossilized dinosaur footprint. iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Huatacondo community had initially compiled sightings of the dinosaur footprints, leading the team from the Geology School of the Universidad Mayor in Santiago to come and investigate.

Between May 23 to June 3, paleontologists found over 1,000 footprints from newborn, juvenile, and adult sauropods (quadrupedal dinosaurs such as Diplodocus) and theropods (a broad group of bipedal dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors) over an area spanning 11.5 square miles, with some being as old as 150 million years. This would place the dinosaurs as living in the late Jurassic period.

The footprints ranged in size from 30 to 40 inches long, leading the scientists to estimate that proportionally, the dinosaurs who left them millions of years ago must have been up to 40 feet long.

"It is something truly unprecedented in my professional experience, incredible. In 10 days, we found more than a thousand footprints...We know that there is huge potential here and it is the beginning of a great project," lead geologist Christian Salazar told China's Xinhua news agency.

The researchers hope that these new discoveries will tell them more about how the climate changed over time, millions of years ago.

"It gives us the opportunity to make climate interpretations...determine seasonality because here we have very well marked cycles," Salazar, a researcher at Universidad Mayor in Santiago, said. "We have to continue collecting information, collecting data, complementing what we already collected."

Their findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Chile does not have any previous record of this magnitude, of more than a thousand dinosaur footprints. It is the beginning of a great project of everything that we must work on and solve," Salazar told ADN.

"It is a prospecting ground for the future. We have already taken a series of data that are to start little by little and advance in this investigation that opened a giant window for us."