BFF-77 US claims largest dinosaur foot ever discovered

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BFF-77

SCIENCE-ANIMAL-US-PALAEONTOLOGY

US claims largest dinosaur foot ever discovered

TAMPA, July 24, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – About 150 million years ago, a giant,
long-necked dinosaur stomped on the ground in the Western US state of Wyoming
and left behind what researchers said Tuesday is the largest dinosaur foot
ever discovered.

The foot bones, found beneath a series of tail bones, extend about three
feet (one meter) wide and are believed to belong to a brachiosaur, from a
group of extinct herbivores known as sauropods, said the findings in the
journal PeerJ.

This is an “exceptionally large foot, bigger than the elements of all other
known sauropod foot bones,” lead author Anthony Maltese, of the Rocky
Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, told AFP in an
email.

“I get asked often what’s the biggest/longest/whatever superlative dinosaur
that ever existed, and in this case I can actually provide an answer now,” he
said.

To give a sense of the creature’s immense size, its thigh bone alone
measured nearly 6.8 feet (2.07 meters).

That said, the Wyoming brachiosaur is not the largest dinosaur known to man
— other excavations have turned up fossils from animals that were likely
larger — but it is the biggest foot in evidence.

“There are tracks and other incomplete skeletons from Australia and
Argentina that seem to be from even bigger animals, but those gigantic
skeletons were found without the feet,” said co-author Emanuel Tschopp, a
postdoctoral fellow in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of
Paleontology.

“This beast was clearly one of the biggest that ever walked in North
America.”

The discovery also extends the known northern range of brachiosaurs,
showing they roamed a vast area from Utah to Wyoming, added Maltese.

“Brachiosaurs are pretty rare as far as dinosaurs go, and being able to
really expand their geographical range by hundreds of kilometers is exciting
and may well help us understand them much better,” he said.

Maltese and colleagues at the University of Kansas first came upon the foot
— nicknamed “Bigfoot” — in 1998, when he was an undergraduate student.

Then life, and work, got in the way.

“It became very difficult to find time to keep up on the literature in
order to finish the project,” he told AFP.

“Luckily by procrastination, it enabled me the opportunity to assemble an
absolutely killer international research team and have the ability to 3D-scan
all of the bones for the best data of any large dinosaur foot to date.”

Other researchers on the project include Femke Holwerda, a PhD-degree
candidate at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany, and David
Burnham, a researcher at the University of Kansas.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2320 HRS