Footprints in the Sand: Glimpses of Family Life in Ancient Dinosaur Society in Northern Germany


Every day we learn something about the ancient world that expands our small window into the past. Just recently, a discovery dated to be about 142 million years old tells us that a pair of carnivorous dinosaurs walked together on a beach.

Their fossilized remains have become windows of the past,  allowing researchers to infer what kind of society dinosaurs had in what is now northern Germany. A further look at the tracks tells us that one dinosaur was significantly larger than the other and were walking at a slow pace, around 3.9 meters per hour for the bigger one of the pair and 6 meters per hour for the smaller one.

The footprint also tell us that the smaller dinosaur changed its pace to match the larger one. Both also slid at point in the sand, marked by skids along the path they walked.

While archeologists see two dinosaurs, biologists Pernille Troelsen from the University of Southern Denmark said that she could offer insights into the dinosaurs as animals instead of the usual fossil.

“As a biologist, I can contribute with knowledge about behavior of the individual animals,” Troelsen said in a statement.

“…this may illustrate two social animals, perhaps a parent and a young.”