These giant footprints could belong to a completely new species. More after the jump.
Palaeontologists will love this discovery. Researchers recently discovered extremely well-preserved footprints on the ceiling of the Castelbouc cave in Lozère, France. Finger, claw and even pads marks can be seen in these giant footprints which measure over 4 feet and which belonged to... dinosaurs. They date from 166 to 168 million years ago, which corresponds to the Middle Jurassic period.
98 foot long Titanosauriformes
According to early information from researchers, these prints belonged to sauropods, a family of dinosaurs of which diplodocus is also a member. These individuals, in particular, were probably Titanosauriformes, which owe their name to the Titans from Greek mythology. They could measure almost 100 feet long and weigh up to 50 tons. The palaeontologist Jean-David Moreau, to whom we owe this discovery, described them in the Sciences et Avenir journal as 'the largest animals to have existed on Earth.' However, we do not know exactly which species they belonged to since these kinds of footprints have never been seen before.
An ancient sedimented beach?
To see the footprints, you first have to be able to access this part of the cave, which is 1,600 feet underground, and then crawl for an hour through a labyrinth of narrow passages, said France 3 Occitanie. Why are they on the cave's ceiling? Scientists believe that the cave is actually located just below an old beach that has become sedimented. The footprints can be seen from below. Moreover, this new type of dinosaur was named Occitanopodus, in reference to Occitania, the region where they were discovered.