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Mama Dino’s doting marks

Dec. 1: The first evidence of a dinosaur mothering her newly hatched young has been discovered on the Isle of Skye.

Footprints left in soft mud-flats by flesh-eating dinosaurs between 165 and 170 million years ago have shed new light on the maternal behaviour of dinosaurs in the mid-Jurassic period.

A 10 inch-long footprint of the mother and 25 small prints measuring just three inches from at least 10 young can be clearly seen in what has become finely grained sandstone.

Experts believe it is the first time in the world that clear signs of a female dinosaur caring for her newborn offspring have been found. The prints found on the Trotternish Peninsula on Skye’s west coast belonged to the same species of two-legged carnivorous dinosaur.

Neil Clark, Glasgow University’s curator of palaeontology, has analysed the footprints. He said: “This clear evidence of post-hatching parental care is unique among dinosaur discoveries.” He said it was impossible to say what species the footprints belonged to, but it could have been something like a Jurassic hypsolophodon. The young were about the size of a turkey, and the mother would have been perhaps three times bigger still.

“It may be that they were being taken for a drink of water or being taught how to hunt when they made the prints in the mud-flats.”

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