The Winton dinosaur trackways

One of the best dinosaur trackway sites in the world is preserved at Lark Quarry, 110 km southwest of Winton, central western Queensland. Over 3000 individual footprints are preserved on a trackway surface, roughly the size of a tennis court. It is the most concentrated set of dinosaur footprints in the world.

What was found?

Lark Quarry during original excavation Four types of dinosaur footprints are preserved:
  • A large theropod (meat-eating) dinosaur. These footprints are nearly 60cm long and have sharp claw marks on the three large toes.
  • Small to medium sized, blunt-toed prints belonging to ornithopod (plant-eating) dinosaurs.
  • Small sharp-toed impressions belonging to small omnivorous dinosaurs known as ceolurosaurs.
  • A few prints belonging to a large ornithopod dinosaur.

Prints from the theropod dinosaur form a trackway consisting of eleven prints. This animal was walking south at approximately 6-8km per hour. The thousands of prints from the small coelurosaurs and ornithopods form numerous trackways, which are all heading in a northerly direction.

Cast of dinosaur footprints held by Queensland Museum

Estimates for the speeds of the small ornithopods are between 10-30km per hour and for the smaller coelurosaurs 9-15km per hour. These animals were running at great speed for their size.

What happened?

Scientists interpret the site to represent a stampede of small dinosaurs which were surprised on a lakes edge by a large carnivorous dinosaur. The number of small dinosaurs exceeds 170 individuals, and all were running in the same direction.

Lark Quarry was excavated in 1976-77 and an Environmental Park established to protect the site. It is now housed in a secure building and interpretation centre.

Can I see it?

Lark Quarry was excavated in 1976-77 and an Environmental Park established to protect the site. It is now housed in a secure building and interpretation centre.

You can visit Lark Quarry to see the trackway for yourself.

 

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.