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Thousands of Dinosaur Footprints Discovered at Western Australian Site

It’s about as close as you’ll get to Jurassic Park without Jeff Goldblum in a leather jacket.

A site in Western Australia has been discovered to have so many dinosaur track fossils that they represent "almost the entire fossil record of dinosaurs from the western half of the Australian continent."

The tracks are located on the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia. A rock formation called the Broome Sandstone formed there during the early Cretaceous Period. The coastal site is typically flooded, but during low tide the water recedes and makes the tracks visible. The sheer volume of tracks has left paleontologists scrambling to try to identify them all.

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The University of Queensland and James Cook University had identified 150 different tracks belonging to 11 to 21 dinosaur species. All four major types of dinosaurs are represented in the samples.

"Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia," lead author Steve Salisbury said in a statement. "There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded. Some of the sauropod tracks are around [5.5 feet] long."

The prints were brought to the attention of Salisbury by the Goolarabooloo people, an Aboriginal Australian tribe. The Dampier Peninsula was nearly the site of a gas processing plant, but the discovery of the prints led to the area being declared a National Heritage site.

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The footprints can be observed by anyone willing to make the hike, according to Salisbury. Among the discoveries is what is believed to be the largest dinosaur footprint ever discovered. 

"It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half of the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period," said Salisbury.

"It's such a magical place — Australia's own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting."

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