The 110-million-year-old fossils were first discovered by Philip Hadland, curator of collections at the nearby Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. They are believed to come from at least six different species and have been verified by independent experts.
“In 2011 I came across some unusual impressions in the Folkestone Shale Formation,” Hadland said.
“It looks like they’re coming back and all I could think about was that they could be footprints.
“This was contrary to what most geologists say about rocks here, but I looked for more footprints, and as the tides showed more erosion, I found better ones.
“More work was needed to convince the scientific community of its accuracy, so I partnered with experts from the University of Portsmouth to review what I found.”
The Folkestone Museum now displays some of the footprints.
Professor David Martell, who studies paleobiology at the University of Portsmouth, explained the significance of the finding.
He commented, “This is the first time that dinosaur footprints have been found in layers known as the Folkestone Formation, which is an unusual finding because these dinosaurs were the last to roam this land before they became extinct.
“You’ve been cruising near the White Cliffs of Dover now—the next time you’re on a ferry and you see those great Cliffs, picture it.
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Several different types of dinosaur footprints were found in the group.
This meat included the food of theropods, which have three claws on each foot to send prey.
There were also ankylosaurs, protected by a hard shell, and the so-called Ornithopods because of their bird-like feet.
Iguanodon was one of the largest ornithopods.
Mr. Hadland said the discoveries are changing our understanding of the area’s geology.
He explained, “In addition to the fact that dinosaurs went ashore as well as birds, we also found new evidence that changes the interpretation of the geology of the layers of the Folkestone Formation.
“It just shows that what has been published so far about the geology of an area is not always correct and that new knowledge can be gained.
“There is also the possibility that nearly everyone will make a discovery that expands the scientific knowledge of publicly available geological sites.”
Dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago during the Cretaceous and Paleogene extinctions.
However, birds, close relatives that evolved from dinosaurs, thrive to this day.
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