It seems like something straight out of Jurassic Park. Drones and dinosaurs just don’t fit.
Don’t tell that to a team of palaeontologists who are currently using drones to look for dinosaur footprints in Western Australia. Led by Steve Salisbury, The University of Queensland team is about halfway through its three-year project to track trails left by dinosaurs along the West Kimberley coast millions of years ago.
The tracks are preserved in stone along a 200-kilometre stretch of coast running north from Broome. And some of the tracks are located in jagged rocks, making them hard to find.
“It’s allowing us to get up above some of the more interesting track sites, and get lots of good video footage, which is really exciting, and lots of fun,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “The drone allows us to get as close as we need to and customize the imagery we want, which is proving to be really, really interesting.”
Some tracks are even being discovered for the very first time, millions of years after they were laid. “There are a couple of new ones that have emerged on this trip, and sometimes it’s just mind-blowing just how much there is to document,” Salisbury said.
The footage will be processed into 3D images of the paths to help explain the dinosaurs’ movements. Large circular imprints being examined were left by sauropods, while others are more bird-like, three-toed theropod prints.
The palaeontologists get a bird’s eye view of the dinosaur footprints. (Credit: Damian Kelly)