Paleontologists from China and the United States have found a Tyrannosauripus, a giant dinosaur footprint fossil in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province, marking the first discovery of Tyrannosauripus in China.
The fossil was unveiled on Monday to the public at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, located in the coastal city of Nan’an, eastern China’s Fujian Province.
The track, found in Jiangxi’s Ganzhou during road construction, was identified as Tyrannosauripus by scholars including Xing Lida with the China University of Geosciences, Beijing, Niu Kecheng with Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum and Martin G. Lockley from the University of Colorado.
Tyrannosauripus is a term coined to describe fossilized footprints that may have been left by tyrannosaurid.
“With sharp claws and well-developed metatarsal pads, the footprint is different from other large theropod footprints found in China, but it bears a strong resemblance to the tyrannosaurid tracks found in the United States,” said Xing, who tentatively attributed the track to tyrannosaurid.
The paleontologists inferred the trackmaker’s body length from the footprint, suggesting the dinosaur could be as long as 7.5 meters, roughly the size of the Qianzhousaurus, a type of tyrannosaurid previously found in Ganzhou.
The excavation site of the footprint is only about 33 km from where the bone fossils of Qianzhousaurus were found, which increases the possibility that the footprint was left by tyrannosaurid, said Xing.
“Most fossilized dinosaur tracks found in China date back to the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous, with very few from Upper Cretaceous, not to mention the tracks left by the tyrannosaurid,” Xing said.
Researchers said the discovery could shed light on the study of the distribution and evolution of the Upper Cretaceous dinosaur fauna in China.
The discovery was published on the online version of the journal Science Bulletin.