Fossilised footprints of animals predating dinosaurs found in Cataluña

CREDIT: Chabier de Jaime / Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont

FOSSILS of archosaurs, animals which lived even before dinosaurs, have been found in Cataluña.

Archosaurs are a group of large reptiles that are considered to be the ancestors of dinosaurs and crocodiles, and lived in what is now Cataluña, 240 million years ago.

Two investigations by the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Palaeontology (ICP) have revealed 219 ichnites (fossil footprints) of four-legged vertebrates and arthropod invertebrates.

Among the remains described, the ichnite of Puigventos (Olesa de Montserrat, Barcelona) is of particular importance and interest, as it is extraordinarily well preserved. Studying fossilised footprints allows experts to analyse how ecosystems evolved.

A hiker found the footprint that seemed carved in the rock in a known area as Puigventos by chance in April 2016.

The fossil footprint was taken to the Olesa City Council, handed over to the Archaeology and Palaeontology Service of the Generalitat and was studied by experts from the ICP.

It turned out to be an imprint of the left foot of an archosaur, which would have looked similar to modern day crocodiles, but were longer and walked in a more vertical position.

They were on land shortly before the appearance of dinosaurs, and were wiped out in the largest extinction ever to hit the Earth.

Nine types have been found, from small animals which came before mammals, to larger animals which came before amphibians, turtles and reptiles. Many of them are very well preserved, even showing the patterns of skin, paw prints and claws.


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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.

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