Scientists in South Korea have discovered the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints, measuring about 0.4 inches long. This makes the unknown species the size of a small bird that may be able to fit in the palm of your hand, according to the researchers. However, this is not a sweet species of dinosaur. After all, there are four movies that clearly show why there is no such thing as a sweet dinosaur. They may be little, but they are still fierce.
Tiny footprints for a tiny creature
These tiny footprints date back to 110 million years ago, this was around the time when dinosaurs shared the Earth with both mammals and birds.
The tracks were found in a dried lakebed near Jinju City, which has provided several other Cretaceous period creatures from birds and pterosaurs to crocodilians and mammals. But these tracks didn’t seem to fit into any of those categories.
Raptor family or not?
The footprints in South Korea were immediately identified as some kind of raptor which are bird-like carnivorous theropods made famous by the misrepresented velociraptor. The shape of the footprints was easily identifiable thanks to the raptor’s distinctive three-clawed feet. Like a cat’s paw, only two of a raptor’s toes are placed on the ground while the third is retracted.
Dr. Anthony Romillo of the University of Queensland said in a statement that they have found tiny raptor fossils in the past. “Fossil bones of diminutive adult raptors called Microraptor were about the size of crows, with feet about 2.5 centimeters long.”
More to discover
Romillo believes that these tiny footprints may not be Microraptors since they are too small. However, some scientists believe that just because they don’t fit an adult Microraptor foot, they could still belong to a baby raptor. For now, the footprints are being assigned to a new dromaeosaurid ichnogenus.
Dromaeosaurids are a family of small- to medium-sized feathered theropods. Ichnogenera, which means “footprint group”, are any genus that is only known through trace fossils such as fossilized footprints. They’ll be known as Dromaeosauriformipes rarus till scientists can find their true origin.