Footprints caused by dinosaurs the size of sparrows have been discovered in South Korea by an international team of paleontologists from the University of Queensland (Australia) and the National University of Education in Chinju (South Korea). It is the smallest dinosaur footprints in the world.
The footprints are only one centimeter in length, which means that the dinosaur that created them was an animal that easily fit in one hand. The footprints are 110 million years old and were made by carnivorous dinosaurs commonly known as raptors. The name they have received is Dromaeosauriformipes, which means raptor shaped feet made these tiny tracks, a member of the family of raptors known as dromaeosaurs.
The team is not sure if the prints were made by a small adult species or baby dinosaurs. To estimate the size of the dinosaur that made the tracks, the team measured the length of the footprint and multiplied the value by 4.5 to obtain an approximate hip height.
Very small dinosaur species like the Chinese Microraptor were the size of a crow, but they had feet too big to match South Korea’s footprints. “If the tracks were made by dinosaur chicks, we are not clear about the specific dinosaur that made them, since dinosaurs like Velociraptor and Utahraptor had bigger feet than the ones discovered in these new tracks,” Anthony Romilio, a researcher at Queensland, who was a part of the team that described the tracks.
For Kyung Soo Kim of the Korean university, deposits from the Cretaceous lake at the discovery site created perfect conditions that allowed for the preservation of tiny footprints that are rarely found elsewhere. “In addition to the small tracks of dinosaurs, we have traces of birds, pterosaurs, lizards, turtles, mammals and even frogs,” he adds.