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Oxfordshire’s Dinosaur Prints to be Protected

January 20, 2010

There aren’t many weeks when I don’t drive along the M40 in Oxfordshire. I’m used to the cutting, think Vicar of Dibley, the Wittenham Clumps and the prehistoric and later shapes in the landscape, but I had no idea that I was following in the footsteps of Megalosaurus. News stories today report that moves are underway to protect up to 40 sets of herbivore and predatory dinosaur tracks at Ardley Trackways, near Bicester.

The tracks show a hunt in motion – a slow moving herd of large sauropods followed by a number of two-legged predators, at first moving carefully, and then breaking into a trot. These prints, discovered in 1997, have given scientists the opportunity to survey life in motion, as it happened, in real Jurassic days. But take away the tape measures and the cameras and the footprints leave you with a tangible reality of life 165 million years ago.

These footsteps date from a time when this part of Oxfordshire was a coast. Today you can see casts of some prints from the site in the museum at Woodstock, but the protection of this landscape will mean that this unparalleled site in Europe will continue to put us in touch with the past.

Ancient landscapes often don’t do so well – I recall the mammoth tooth and a Roman burial urn simply handed over to me by quarrymen. This one may last.

The report from the Oxford Mail.

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