Huge real life ‘Jurassic Park’ of fossilised dinosaur footprints found in Polish clay pit
An enormous, real-life Jurassic Park has been discovered in a clay mine in southern Mazowsze.
Dinosaur specialists are hailing the find at the most spectacular dinosaur discovery ever in Poland, the biggest of its type in Europe and possibly the world.
The discovery of hundreds of Jurassic period dinosaur fossils was made near the village of Borkowice in central-east Poland by Prof. Grzegorz Pieńkowski from the National Geological Institute in Warsaw and geologist and paleontologist Dr. Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki from Uppsala University.
Dr Niedźwiedzki said: "It looks just like the dinosaurs were walking there yesterday. This will make the site the largest collection of its type in Europe.”
The quality of preservation is equal to the best-known specimens from dinosaur hotspots in Greenland, North America, South Africa and China.
The researchers came across the first perfectly preserved fossils in July in rock material discarded during mining but have just gone public by publishing an article about their find in The Geological Review, published by the Polish National Geological Institute.
So far, they have recovered about 60 large blocks of rock that contain several hundred fossils of carnivorous and avian dinosaurs, as well as sauropodomorphs, a family that includes the Brontosaurus.
The largest fossils are 40cm long, meaning the dinosaurs were up to six metres tall. Precious details including skin and claws have been imprinted in the rock.
The scientists believe that there may be thousands more fossils waiting to be discovered in Borkowice.
“I have never seen such a treasure trove before,” said Professor Pieńkowski.
In the next few months, they plan to excavate more than 200 blocks of rock with dinosaur fossils.
The fossils date back 199 million years, which places them in the early Jurassic period called the Hettangian Age between 201.3 million and 199.3 million years ago.
The discovery is particularly remarkable as not many dinosaur fossils are found in Poland. This is because 65 million years ago and earlier, much of Poland was under water.
There were some areas exposed to land in the Jurassic period, and the site at Borkowice was a coastal region back then.
This is not the first time that Dr Niedźwiedzki has made the headlines. In 2002 he discovered the oldest ever quadruped footprints dating back 390 million years old in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.
He also recently found the oldest mammal remains from 215 million years ago in Greenland.
The scientists are currently working on a paper that will be published internationally.