A South Korean research team says it has recently uncovered a large skin impression on a sauropod dinosaur footprint from the Early Cretaceous period in floodplain deposits in southeastern South Korea.
The team led by Paik In-sung, an earth and environmental science professor at Pukyong National University, exposed the polygonal skin impression and its cast at the Gunbuk deposits in the town of Haman, South Gyeongsang Province.
The find, measuring over 50 centimeters in diameter, is the largest-ever skin impression on a sauropod dinosaur footprint on record worldwide, providing archaeologists with clues on the ecology of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous Epoch, or the geologic time epoch 146 to 100 million years ago in Cretaceous Period geochronology.
“Up until now, a number of fossilised dinosaur footprints have been found worldwide. But the case of a skin impression preserved in a dinosaur footprint is very rare,” Paik said.
The discovery of the skin impression suggests that some sauropod dinosaurs in the Cretaceous had a well-developed polygonal skin texture covering nearly the whole of their foot pads, as seen in modern elephants, which would increase stability when walking on muddy and wet ground.
The team’s findings are published in the latest edition of Scientific Reports, part of the international journal Nature.