Giant Dinosaur Foot Proclaimed Largest Ever Discovered
A fossilized dinosaur foot believed to be the largest in the world has been unearthed in Weston County, Wyoming, the United States.
The 39-inch-wide (1 m) foot was excavated from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation by University of Kansas paleontologists in 1998.
Now, after detailed preparation and study, Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center researcher Anthony Maltese and co-authors identified it as belonging to a dinosaur species very closely related to the long-necked, long-tailed sauropod Brachiosaurus.
“It was immediately apparent that the foot was from an extremely large animal, so the specimen was nicknamed ‘Bigfoot’,” said Dr. Maltese, who was part of the original University of Kansas team in 1998.
The scientists used 3D scanning and detailed measurements to compare the specimen to feet from numerous dinosaur species.
The study confirms that this brachiosaur foot is the largest dinosaur foot discovered to date.
“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 Dr. Emanuel Tschopp, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Museu da Lourinhã.
“This beast was clearly one of the biggest that ever walked in North America.”
The study also shows that brachiosaurs inhabited a huge area from eastern Utah to northwestern Wyoming.
“This is surprising. Many other sauropod dinosaurs seem to have inhabited smaller areas during that time,” Dr. Tschopp said.
The brachiosaur foot is described in a paper published in the journal PeerJ.
A. Maltese et al. 2018. The real Bigfoot: a pes from Wyoming, USA is the largest sauropod pes ever reported and the northern-most occurrence of brachiosaurids in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation. PeerJ 6: e5250; doi: 10.7717/peerj.5250