Category Archives: WORLD

Severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died

The severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died

The severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died
Scientists estimate that the wolf lived 40,000 years ago.

The sensational find is believed to be the world’s first full-sized Pleistocene wolf, and due to the high quality of preservation, provides new insight into the extinct species.

You never know what you might encounter during a casual stroll in Siberia. Local resident, Pavel Efimov, was walking along the Tirekhtyakh River in the Russian Republic of Sakha when he came across something bizarre: a severed wolf head.

But upon closer examination by experts, they found that it wasn’t just the head of any kind of wolf, but that of a prehistoric predator which lived 40,000 years ago during the Ice Age.

“This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved,” paleontologist Albert Protopopov from the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences told The Siberian Times.

The head, which measures 16 inches in length and is larger than half the body length of a modern-day wolf, is astonishingly well-preserved with its fangs, thick fur, soft tissue, and brain intact.

Although this is not the first such discovery of an ancient wolf in the Siberian territory, other discoveries have typically been skull specimens or the remains of pups. This head is believed to be from an adult wolf aged between two to four years old when it died.

The incredible discovery was announced in a joint exhibition organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists in Tokyo, Japan. Further analysis of the wolf’s DNA will be done by an international team of scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

By examining the wolf’s ancient DNA, researchers hope to learn more about the evolution of ancient wolves to their modern iterations.

The researchers have time-stamped the impressive specimen to 40,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era.

Analyzing the specimen’s ancient DNA will allow scientists to learn more about the evolution of modern wolves.

In addition to some genetic analysis, the ancient wolf’s features will be reconstructed using a non-invasive x-ray with which the inside of the skull can be examined without destroying the head.

The Siberian permafrost, which includes areas in northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, has been host to other incredible archaeological finds in the past.

In fact, the team responsible for the recovery of this wolf head struck big in 2015 and 2017 with the discovery of several ancient cave lion cubs.

In 2017, one ancient cave lion cub was discovered around the same place by the Tirekhtyakh River in the Siberian permafrost territory.

Before then, researchers had already uncovered two other cubs — which scientists named Uyan and Dina — in 2015. The two cubs were unearthed on the banks of a different river still in the permafrost region.

“Everyone was amazed then and did not believe that such a thing is possible, and now, two years later, another cave lion has been found in the Abyiski district,” Protopopov said then.

Researchers dated all three cub specimens between 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, around the same time the ancient cave lion population became extinct.

CT scan of the wolf’s skull.

Like the wolf’s head, the lion cubs were incredibly well-preserved. The Cubs had all their limbs intact and showed no external injuries. The prehistoric animals were so perfect that they sparked a sudden interest among some scientists to clone the little beasts.

Just this past year, a 40,000-year-old extinct horse and 50,000-year-old wolf pup were also uncovered in the permafrost.

The ancient cave lion cubs were placed side-by-side with the new wolf specimen during the recent announcement by the researchers. The ancient wolf head has yet to ignite the same cloning discussion, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.

Cooking Gear Found In Graves Of Viking Men And Women

Cooking Gear Found In Graves Of Viking Men And Women

Scientists often imagine that men’s and women’s roles during the Viking Age were clearly differentiated, archaeologist Marianne Moen says. “The illustrations show women making food and holding children, while men were active, in battle,” she says. But maybe this wasn’t the way things were. The illustration is from “Vikinger i vest” (Vikings in the West), published in 2009.

“I think we need to move away from distinguishing between men’s and women’s roles during the Viking times,” she said. Moen has completed her Ph.D. on Viking Age gender roles at the University of Oslo. Her research shows that upper-class men and women generally were buried with the same types of items — including cooking gear.

She examined the contents of 218 Viking graves in Vestfold, a county on the southwest side of Oslo Fjord, and sorted the artifacts she found according to type. Many of the graves were richly equipped with everything from cups and plates to horses and other livestock.

In fact, these ancient Viking women were not only housewives.

Not just housewives

Archaeologists often assume that Viking women were responsible for the house and home, while men were merchants and warriors. However, tools and items associated with housekeeping were fairly equally distributed between men and women in the Vestfold graves.

“The key is a good example. It is often considered to be the symbol of a housewife,” Moen said. Nonetheless, almost as many men’s graves had keys as women’s graves.

“It might be time to change the story a bit,” she said.

Men were just as likely to be buried with cooking equipment as women. Ten graves containing cookware were men’s graves, while eight were women’s. Moen likes that fact. It means that men also made food, she thinks. “My interpretation is that cooking equipment indicates hospitality. This was very important during Viking times,” she said, although others interpret it differently.

Cookware doesn’t mean that men cooked

The Gokstad Ship, the large ship displayed at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, was part of a man’s grave and also contained a large array of cooking equipment. “These finds were often excused as being because men needed to make their own food on long voyages,” Moen says.

Not everyone agrees with Moen’s interpretation. Just because men chose to bring cookware into the afterlife doesn’t necessarily mean that they did the cooking in their own home, says archaeologist Frans-Arne Stylegar.

Stylegar was previously the county conservator for Vest-Agder, the southernmost county in Norway. He currently works with cultural preservation and urban planning at the consulting firm Multiconsult.

“It is difficult to translate the persona who is idealized in burial customs into actual historical reality. It’s almost a philosophical question,” he says. Moen also thinks there is a stark difference between life and death when it comes to gender roles. But she also thinks that the items that people were buried with have some relation to what real life was like during those times.

A soapstone vessel from the Viking Age, found at Kaupang in Vestfold. Soapstone was used to make cookware, among other items.

She reminds us that tools and equipment aren’t just something that Vikings were buried with. These items were also found in houses, although without the ability to determine who used them.

Farmers and upper-class citizens

Stylegar thinks that Moen’s Ph.D. thesis was well done and that she makes a convincing case that there wasn’t much difference between the way upper-class Viking men and women were buried. He has studied several Viking graves in Vestfold previously and isn’t very surprised by this conclusion. “I’ve gotten this impression previously, but she shows it very clearly,” he said.

However, from his own work in Vestfold, he had the impression that farmers were much more concerned with marking gender in their graves than the upper-class citizens, although he points out that this was not the focus of his research.

There are still a few clear differences between genders for the elite. Men generally have weapons in their graves, while women have jewellery and textile tools, as Moen’s work shows.

Both genders have jewellery

Viking men and women still had more similarities than differences in their graves, Moen said. More than 40 percent of the male graves contained jewellery such as brooches and beads. The men also have what seem to be toiletries in their graves, including tweezers and razors likely used for personal grooming.

Interpreting the past through a modern lens

Moen wonders where the idea that there was clear gender differentiation in the past comes from. Other researchers have pointed out that many of the items retrieved from graves in the early 1900s were interpreted based on the cultural perspectives of those times, in the same way, that Moen now sees the artifacts from her modern perspective.

She calls herself a gender archaeologist, and wants to challenge other archaeologists’ interpretations of Viking culture.  But entrenched perceptions among experts can be difficult to change, she says.

“I encounter quite a bit of skepticism. There are quite a few researchers who are very set in their opinion on gender when it comes to work-related roles,” Moen said. She thinks part of the reason for this is that it is much easier to relate to a version of history that is in keeping with our modern expectations, “a version of history where men and women have specific roles in society,” she said.

“In general, in Viking Age studies, artifacts found in graves are interpreted as being connected to the person buried in the grave. This shouldn’t change for cases where artifacts don’t meet modern expectations of what a man or woman would have in their grave,” Moen said.

Mysterious 2,000-year-old Roman Era wooden arm found in English well may have been a spiritual offering

Mysterious 2,000-year-old Roman Era wooden arm found in English well may have been a spiritual offering

Archaeologists think the finely carved arm could have been an offering to the gods and it is considered to be of national and international importance.

A rare 2,000-year-old wooden arm has been recovered from the bottom of a Roman well.

The “finely carved” limb was found by archaeologists excavating land at the Warth Park industrial estate in Raunds, Northamptonshire.

The arm is very rare and very well preserved

This discovery is so important because of its location and how well preserved the artifact is.

Researchers working at the Warth Park industrial estate in Raunds were carrying out an excavation before more development was supposed to occur in the area.

The arm discovery came as a surprise and it is thought to have survived so well because it lay in waterlogged conditions.

The ancient well had been filled into a lack of oxygen prevented any deterioration from happening.

The arm is more likely to have been a ritual offering than a prosthetic limb
The arm is more likely to have been a ritual offering than a prosthetic limb
Archaeologist and wood expert Michael Bamforth examined the arm found at the bottom of the well

Wood specialist Michael Bamforth wrote in a report that he thinks the arm was “carved from a single branch, which makes use of a natural curve to form the elbow, and is very well made, as no tool marks are visible on its surface”.

It is thought that the artifact was designed to resemble the arm of a small adult or teenager, as it is quite slender and has a graceful open palm pose.

Archaeologists at Oxford Archaeology East also think that the arm was made to be a single object and not part of a larger sculpture as there is no joint evidence.

A small part of the wooden arm has been carbon dated and revealed to be from between 86 and 240 AD.

Bamforth thinks the object was probably thrown into the well as a religious offering.

Although the Romans were known to use wooden limbs for prosthetic purposes, this particular arm is thought to have been purely for ritual purposes because it has no obvious way of attaching to the human body.

Louise Moan from Oxford Archaeology East told The BBC: “It’s extremely improbable that this arm would have been used for a prosthetic.

“It would be heavy and cumbersome to have a large piece of wood like this attached to you if you did it is unlikely that you’d be able to lift it or use it in any meaningful way to aid with everyday life.

“There is also no evidence on the arm to show that it originally had attachments to connect it to anything. 

It is far more likely that this is a single piece which was carved specifically to be thrown down the well as a ritual votive offering.”

Other examples of carved wooden body parts seemingly used for ritual purposes have been found across Europe but they don’t date as far back as the wooden arm in question and have never been found in Britain before.

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., to Sarnia, Ont. 

Five containers containing the artifacts were seized on May 25 following the selection of the truck for examination in Michigan near Sarnia, Ont., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The artifacts had come from Canada in a bulk mail shipment, and were being shipped to a home in the United States, Kris Grogan, spokesman for the agency, said in an interview.

“It’s taken some time to identify what they were,” Grogan said. “We’ve had to work with the State Department as well as other federal agencies in identifying this.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.

The artifacts would be sent back to Egypt in the near future, Grogan said.

In a statement, the agency said the importer was unable to prove the linens had been taken out of Egypt before 2016.

That could be a violation of the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, a federal law that allows American authorities to impose import restrictions on certain classes of archeological material.

Authorities said they worked with an unidentified archeological organization to pin down the age of the artifacts, which are believed to date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C.

One expert in antiquities, Sue McGovern-Huffman, said trying to illegally buy ancient artifacts is more trouble than it’s worth no matter what era the object is from.

“If it’s been illegally taken out of the country, it’s got a zero value as far as the commercial market is concerned,” McGovern-Huffman, president of Sands of Time Antiquities, said from Washington, D.C.

Without an artifact’s provenance or proof of ownership and history, even illegally selling ancient artifacts would be difficult for any dealer on the black market, she said.

McGovern-Huffman, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, said pieces like ancient mummy linens have more archeological or study interest than collector interest.

“These fragments have very little value. There are all these reports of antiquities selling for millions and billions of dollars on the black market and it’s completely wrong,” she said. “You’d be lucky to get $50 for this stuff.”

Michael Fox, the customs agency director in Port Huron, Mich., said the seizure was of “historical importance.”

Grogan said no arrests have been made as it remains unclear who might be criminally responsible.

Iron Age Chariot Burial Discovered in Wales

Iron Age Chariot Burial Discovered in Wales

Iron Age Chariot Burial Discovered in Wales
Archaeologists discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword

Archaeologists have discovered more artifacts at the first Celtic chariot burial site to be found in southern Britain.

Two iron tires and a sword from the chariot had been retrieved throughout an excavation in Pembrokeshire.

The precise website stays a secret and follows the invention of ornamental objects by a steel detector fanatic on the identical land in February 2018.

Nationwide Museum Wales is conserving the chariot items.

Archaeologists had suspected they might uncover extra beneath the farmland the place steel detectorist Mike Smith discovered a variety of objects related to a chariot.

Following a preliminary investigation in June 2018 by archaeologists from NationwideMuseum Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Belief, a dig was carried out in March and April, funded by Nationwide Museum Wales, Cadw, and the Nationwide Lottery Heritage Fund.

The finds were a “significant discovery”, National Museum Wales said

The staff found bronze artifacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword.

Adam Gwilt, principal curator of prehistoric archaeology at Nationwide Museum Wales, stated: “It’s the first chariot burial to be discovered not simply in Wales, however in southern Britain.

“Chariots, like warfare and ceremonial autos, had been used to show the ability and id of their homeowners and tribal communities in late Iron Age Britain, because of the nice ornament on these artifacts exhibits.

“Whereas we nonetheless know little about their proprietor, these chariot items in all probability belonged to a person or lady of some standing inside their tribe or neighborhood.”

Nationwide Museum Wales hopes to purchase the objects discovered by Mr. Smith to allow them to be displayed alongside the chariot wheels and sword at St Fagans Nationwide Museum of Historical past.

Dr. Kate Roberts, the principal inspector of historical monuments at Cadw, stated: “A singular archaeological discovery like this stirs our creativeness – we marvel who the charioteer was and concerning the world, they lived in.

“By finding out these artifacts we hope to study extra a few time when the nice change within the form of the Roman Empire was sweeping throughout Wales.”

An artist’s impression of how the Celtic war chariot may have looked

Scientists discover oldest human fossil outside of Africa

Oldest non-African modern human fossil revealed to be 195,000 years old

The popular consensus in palaeoanthropology places the ancestors of our species exclusively in Africa before making a successful migration into Eurasia around 60,000 years ago.

There has been some level of recognition that perhaps small numbers of early modern humans reached the Levant and the Middle East around 120,000 years ago.

It was believed that these earlier populations represented a small-scale failed migration that barely managed to leave the continent before dying off. Now new Homo sapiens fossils from Israel suggest that this popular model is almost completely wrong.

Human origins are a murky affair; there is no definitive narrative to this story beyond a few fixed points between which lines can potentially be drawn in multiple (at times conflicting) directions.

The first thing anyone that follows palaeoanthropology should recognize is that the entire subject is dependent not so much on archaeological and genetic evidence as it is on accurate interpretations and sensible assumptions.

There is no Homo sapiens DNA available that is older than 45,000 years, and the fossil record of early modern and archaic Homo sapiens is very sparse. This means any favored human-origins hypothesis can change rapidly on the turn of a trowel.

Israeli scientists have published a confirmation of an archaic Homo sapiens jaw fragment associated with a discovery made back in 2002, at the Misliya Cave site, one of Mount Carmel’s many caves.

The article released in the science journal Nature, titled “Israeli Fossils Are the Oldest Modern Humans Ever Found Outside of Africa,” explains that the archaeological dig is situated just a few kilometers away from the Skhul cave, which has already produced modern-human remains dated at 80,000 to 120,000 years old.

After considerable analysis by multiple methods and involving international teams, the jaw fragment was accepted to be that of an early modern human living around 177,000 to 194,000 years ago.

Misliya Cave, the archaeological site where part of an adult upper jaw was found.
Misliya Cave, the archaeological site where part of an adult upper jaw was found.

“We called it ‘Searching for the Origins of the Earliest Modern Humans’; this was what we were looking for,” says Mina Weinstein-Evron, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa in Israel.

This incredibly ancient human bone further erodes the recent “Out of Africa” model. Not only were early modern human populations living beyond Africa 120,000 years ago, but they had already colonized western Eurasia almost 200,000 years ago. This date from Israel is virtually contemporary with those of the oldest early modern human remains found in East Africa, at 160,000 to 195,000 years of age (the Omo and Herto Skulls).

This latest announcement comes hot on the heels of several other “problematic” findings, including a new status for China’s Dali Skull, now identified as being that of a 260,000-year-old archaic Homo sapiens.

The other major upset for existing models involved the detection of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and archaic Homo sapiens that occurred somewhere in Eurasia around 270,000 years ago, emerging from the study of a Neanderthal bone at the Hohlenstein-Stadel archaeological site in Germany.

The Hohlenstein-Stadel genetic study was published by Nature in late 2016, under the title “Deeply Divergent Archaic Mitochondrial Genome Provides Lower Time Boundary for African Gene flows into Neanderthals.”

When we factor in additional discoveries of potential early Homo sapiens populations living at Jebel Irhoud in Morocco around 300,000 years ago and others in China at dates closely matching those of the Dali skull, we begin to recognize Homo sapiens as a highly mobile and widespread species even from their very earliest appearance in the fossil record. It is time to completely abandon any romantic idea of a human genesis in an Eden-like human enclave somewhere in East Africa around 200,000 years ago.

“The fossil could indicate that Israel and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula were part of a larger region in which H. sapiens evolved,” says John Shea, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University in New York.

Perhaps the most intriguing implication of these very early modern human population in Eurasia is that we no longer require a migration into Eurasia 120,000 years ago to explain fossils from that later period.

It may well be that these were the descendants of more archaic Homo sapiens already present across the continent, while fully modern humans of today would be descendants of a few that survived extinction 73,000 years ago in a refuge somewhere before expanding once again across the continent 13,000 years later. Perhaps it is time for us to be more skeptical of claims involving additional migrations out of Africa and consider other interpretations of the available evidence.

Hoard of Viking coins worth at least £500,000 found during police raids

Hoard of Viking coins worth at least £500,000 found during police raids

A hoard of Viking coins has been confiscated by police investigating an illegal trade in historic treasures that could rewrite British history.

The collection of coins and a silver ingot, dating back to King Alfred the Great’s reign of the 9th century, were retrieved at households in Durham County and Lancashire by police.

Believed to be worth at least £500,000, a leading expert has told the MailOnline they could ‘add significantly to our understanding of the political history of England in the AD 870s’ as they reveal a previously unknown alliance between King Alfred and his contemporary Ceolwulf II, King of Mercia.

Ceolwulf of Mercia was believed by historians to be simply a puppet of the Vikings  – a minor nobleman rather than a proper King.  But the recently discovered coins show the two rulers standing side by side, as allies suggesting a different story. 

While Alfred became known as a national hero who defeated the Vikings, Ceolwulf was written off as insignificant and disappeared without a trace, with experts now suggesting the Mercia King was later ‘airbrushed out of history’ by Alfred. If confirmed, the discovery could reshape our view of how England was united and those who made it happen.

Police, who have now handed over the haul to the British Museum, have arrested a number of people on suspicion of dealing in culturally tainted objects and the complex police operation – codenamed Operation Fantail – is said by Durham Police to be in its early stages. They refused to give further detail on the arrests.

The Coin show images of Alfred the Great 
Rare Kings of Mercia Offa, Light Coinage portrait 
 Shows King Alfred and Ceolwulf standing side-by-side, demonstrating their alliance .
Believed to be worth at least £500,000, a leading expert has told the MailOnline they could ‘add significantly to our understanding of the political history of England in the AD 870s’ .

Detective Inspector Lee Gosling, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Fantail at Durham Constabulary, said: ‘We believe the material recovered comes from a hoard of immense historical significance relating to the Vikings and we are delighted to have been able to hand it over to the British Museum.’

The British Museum believe the coins were in circulation at the time of King Alfred when he won a number of major battles in AD 878 that led to the defeat on the Vikings.    Dr. Gareth Williams, the curator of Early Medieval Coins and Viking Collections at the British Museum, called the latest find ‘nationally important’. 

He said: ‘This is the period in which Alfred the Great was fighting the Vikings, but which also led to the creation of a unified kingdom of England under Alfred and his successors.  ‘The hoard contains coins both of Alfred and of his contemporary Ceolwulf II, King of Mercia.

‘The coins I have seen so far add significantly to our understanding of the political history of England in the AD 870s.  Around the time the hoard was buried, probably in AD 879, Ceolwulf mysteriously disappeared, and Alfred then took over Ceolwulf’s kingdom as well as his own.’ 

Dr Williams added: ‘I think that the coins show that Ceolwulf II was in an alliance with Alfred of Wessex, and not a puppet of the Vikings as suggested in sources written at Alfred’s court a few years later, by which time Ceolwulf had disappeared without trace from history and Alfred had taken over his kingdom. 

‘Sources from Alfred’s court, writing more than fifteen years later, describe as ‘a foolish king’s thegn’, who was only made king by the Vikings. ‘However, the coins show a working relationship with Alfred which the sources ‘forgot’ to mention, and his name suggests that he may well have been a legitimate descendant of earlier kings of Mercia.

‘Some of the coins show the name of Ceolwulf and the images on their back show two emperors standing side by side, and was almost certainly a deliberate choice to symbolize their alliance.’  This isn’t a completely new idea, but until recently coins of this period were too rare to prove the idea. 

‘The discovery of this hoard strengthens the case that Ceolwulf and Alfred were allies and that Alfred’s spin-doctors later re-wrote history to suit the political situation of the time.’  The iconic figure of King Alfred is widely believed to be the man who saved England from the Vikings and is currently being portrayed by David Dawson in the BBC epic The Last Kingdom. 

He spent several years fighting the Vikings, who were wreaking devastation in England, and won several decisive victories. Alfred ruled from 871 to 899 was instrumental in setting the foundations for England known nowadays without whom the English may have even spoken another language.

His defeat of the Vikings earned him the name Alfred the Great.  But in recent years, his role has been called into question by a number of archaeological finds.

More than 200 pieces of Viking silver including coins, ingots, and jewellery were discovered buried in a field in Oxfordshire in 2015 which Shedd fresh light on King Alfred and the little-known ally, Ceolwulf II.

A spokesperson for Durham Police has said the investigation is ongoing and a number of people have been arrested on suspicion of dealing in ‘culturally tainted objects’.  

Huge Dinosaur Footprints Discovered on Scottish Coast

Huge Dinosaur Footprints Discovered on Scottish Coast

A newfound site on Scotland’s Isle of Skye contains about 50 dinosaur footprints, many belonging to long-necked dinosaurs called sauropods. This footprint preserves the outlines of a sauropod’s toes—and even traces the animal’s fleshy heel pad.

MORE THAN 160 million years ago, long-necked dinosaurs called sauropods lumbered through the ancient lagoons that dotted what is now Great Britain. Now, dozens of their footprints have been found on the forbidding, wave-pounded coast of Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

Researchers Davide Foffa and Hong-Yu Yi, University of Edinburgh paleontologist Dr. Stephen Brusatte and his student Paige dePolo went back to the site to take a closer look at the prints and learn more.

They are not so easy to access, located in the wave-pounded tidal zone of a headland called Brother’s Point. A collaborative study of the footprints by the University of Edinburgh, Staffin Museum, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by dePolo, was presented in the Scottish Journal of Geology, along with a full catalog of images of the 50 footprints.

The team has dated the tracks at about 170 million years of age, and conclude that they were made by the gargantuan animals as they waded through a shallow lagoon. In the distant past, when these tracks were made, Earth was a very different place. It was shortly after the time when Pangaea started to break apart, and our planet was transforming into the continents we know today.

In those days, experts believe that the area of Skye was positioned somewhere in the subtropic belt, with a much warmer climate. According to Brusatte, “This was a subtropical kind of paradise world, probably kind of like Florida or Spain today.”

The latest find of dinosaur prints in Scotland is a source of great excitement in the worlds of paleontology and geology because they are from the Middle Jurassic epoch.

As Brusatte explained to National Geographic, this was an important time in dinosaur evolution. It is probably the era when the first birds appeared and the largest species of a sauropod were thriving, but dinosaur fossils from this period are scarce compared to other periods.

The recent find follows hot on the heels of the discovery in 2015 of hundreds of Middle Jurassic sauropod tracks at another location on the Isle of Skye, Duntulm beach. The Brother’s Point prints were found in older rocks than those of the 2015 discovery.

The study has increased knowledge of dinosaurs from this era significantly and offered some valuable insights: for instance, sauropods were roaming this corner of the globe for a greater period of time than previously thought.

Sauropods were the largest land-dwelling animals at that time, and despite their size, they were plant-eating creatures. The field team not only mapped tracks from sauropods; scattered among them are distinctive three-toed prints belonging to theropods, a distant and more primitive relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. These meat-eating dinosaurs were able to grow to about 6.5 feet in height.

The largest sample of theropod footprint left on the Isle of Skye was about 19.6 inches across, which is still nowhere close to the largest belonging to a sauropod–one example of these was reportedly some 27.5 inches across.

The endeavors of the researchers were not without challenges. As the area is continuously hammered with cold winds and rain, the team could not easily proceed with mapping the area. Another challenge was the high tides that regularly reclaimed the footprints, hence the team was constantly clock-watching while they measured and inspected the tracks on the rocky ledges. They also had to improvise with cameras and equipment, but in the end, it paid off, as 3-D images of the terrain were produced.

Part of the dinosaur traces found were actually hand prints, Brusatte explained, a clue that it was a huge creature in question, like the sauropod. This enormous animal, which could grow up to 50 feet long, needed all four limbs to support itself while lumbering around. The theropod tracks indicate that these dinosaurs walked only on their hind legs.

Sauropods were previously thought to have been purely amphibious creatures, the Smithsonian notes. Paleontologists of the early 20th century believed that sauropods could not walk on the land because of their weight.

Evidence that was acquired later on proved the contrary. And the recent finds coming from Scotland suggest that, while some representatives of the species were able to move comfortably on land, others opted to wade through waters near the coast.

Related story from us: This dinosaur had a swan-like neck and crocodile teeth and walked like a duck and swam like a penguin

In fact, Brusatte remarked to National Geographic, sauropods “were so dynamic and so energetic,” meaning it is likely that they were abundant in various environments as their species spread around the world.

Brusatte also acknowledged that more Middle Jurassic era dinosaur fossils could lurk hidden on the Isle of Skye, hence this might be only the beginning of what this Scottish island has to offer to the knowledge of dinosaurs in the world.