Grandad and grandson discover prehistoric footprint at Irchester Country Park

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A grandad and his three-year-old grandson have discovered proof that dinosaurs roamed the land that is now Irchester Country Park, as the pair found a prehistoric footprint believed to be from a megalosaurus.

The amazing find is physical evidence that dinosaurs once walked through north Northamptonshire. Keen fossil hunter Steve Pulley spotted a large and unusually-shaped rock lying partially buried on the ground while exploring with his grandson Cody.

Having spent hours searching the shores of the Isle of Wight for dinosaur fossils, Steve instantly recognised the dinosaur footprint cast, but thought it best to carry out more research.

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He said: “These casts formed as a result of a dinosaur making a footprint in soft ground, which then gradually filled in with local sediment. It then solidified over eons, eventually leaving a cast of the footprint long after the actual footprint disappeared.

Cody, 3, with their prehistoric findCody, 3, with their prehistoric find
Cody, 3, with their prehistoric find

“We left the rock, which was 55cm in length, where it was after visually examining it to confirm it was a sedimentary rock, an essential requirement if we were to prove that we had found evidence of dinosaurs.

“The next piece of detective work that had to be done was to research what the local geology was in order to confirm that it was viable that a footprint cast could have been laid down in the area.

"After all, if the local geology showed that the area was pre-historically covered in a massive ocean, then it would have been impossible for dinosaurs to have walked on the land.”

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Studies of maps from the British Geological Survey have clearly showed that the spot in Irchester which it was found in sat on an ancient shoreline overlooking a large inlet.

Cllr Harriet Pentland, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for climate and green environment, said: “Our country parks are extremely popular with residents, but it is a wonderful glimpse into our area’s past to know that 170 million years ago, dinosaurs were roaming the land and that a moment in time could result in a footprint preserved in stone forever.

“I want to thank Steve for coming to us with this and the team are very excited about this unique and major find.”

The Natural History Museum in London were contacted with details of the discovery.

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Two experts confirmed it was indeed a dinosaur footprint cast and, in their opinion, from a theropod (meat-eating) dinosaur. It is believed that it was probably from a megalosaurus, which is the first officially named dinosaur, lived around 168 million years ago, stood at 6m in length, and weighed around one tonne.

It is hoped that the find will be able to go on display at Irchester Country Park.

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