A jogger, Sophie Giles, made a remarkable discovery on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset—a 140-million-year-old dinosaur footprint belonging to an iguanodon.
The fossilized imprint was found at a red squirrel nature reserve and has ignited excitement among researchers and the public alike.
Jogger’s Serendipitous Find:
National Trust ranger Sophie Giles stumbled upon the dinosaur footprint while running on Brownsea Island.
The footprint, belonging to a 36-feet-tall, 285-stone herbivore from the late Jurassic period, had been exposed in a slab of Purbeck stone quarried from the nearby Isle of Purbeck and transported to Brownsea approximately 50 years ago.
Unnoticed Historical Artifact:
Remarkably, the dinosaur footprint had gone unnoticed until Giles discovered it. Used as a paving slab imported from Purbeck, the print became visible after rainwater pooled into it.
Giles expressed surprise, stating that she had passed by the spot countless times without noticing the historical significance of the fossil.
Purbeck Stone and its Journey:
The slab containing the iguanodon footprint is made of Purbeck stone, likely used as building material brought to Brownsea Island from Purbeck. The individual who installed it many years ago did not recognize its significance at the time. Now, the discovery has shed light on the island’s hidden prehistoric past.
Dr. Martin Munt, curator at the Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown, Isle of Wight, expressed initial disbelief at the news. While unable to confirm the exact species, he noted that iguanodontian fossils found in similar rocks suggest the likelihood of the imprint being from this dinosaur.
The iguanodon, known for its presence in southern England, is a significant part of the region’s geological history.
Future Public Display:
The public will have the opportunity to view the ancient dinosaur footprint when Brownsea Island reopens to visitors next March. This unexpected find adds a new dimension to the popular nature reserve, already known for its colony of endangered red squirrels.
This article highlights the accidental discovery of a dinosaur footprint, the historical context, expert analysis, and the anticipation of public display at Brownsea Island.