Paleontologists in northeast B.C. have revealed a series of rare discoveries at a recently uncovered dinosaur track site, including a footprint not yet seen anywhere else in the world.

The print is of a four-toed meat-eating dinosaur, said Richard McCrea of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre.

"Most of the meat-eating dinosaurs had three functional toes," he told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

"They had remnants of another two, but those did not usually make contact with the ground. So, when I say four functional digits, I mean all four toes are major digits."

McCrea suspects the print belongs to a Therizinosaur, an early Cretaceous-era dinosaur he describes as "a cross between a hallucinogenic dream and your worst nightmare."

therizinosaur

An artist's impression shows the Therizinosaur Beipiaosaurus inexpectus, based on a skeletal reconstruction. (Wikimedia Commons)

He said some of the tracks are nearly 55 centimetres in length, suggesting a dinosaur with an estimated height of a small Tyrannosaurus rex or the average telephone pole.

The track is still being analyzed for peer review but it's not the only significant discovery at the site.

More discoveries likely

The Six Peaks track site located west of Hudson's Hope in northeast B.C. was first discovered in 2008, but officials kept its location secret until they could secure the resources needed to properly protect and excavate it.

It was publicly unveiled in the summer of 2016 and has already changed paleontologists' understanding of life in prehistoric British Columbia.

In addition to the possible Therizinosaur tracks, another significant find is two sets of prints thought to belong to massive brontosauruses — herbivores that individually could weigh as much as a herd of elephants. 

"That is the northernmost record of that group of dinosaurs living in North America and it is very likely that it's the northernmost record of them in the world," McCrea said.

McCrea doesn't expect the discoveries at the site to stop. So far, his team has uncovered just 700 square metres of the site, revealing over 1,200 tracks belonging to at least a dozen different animals.

Over the coming years, McCrea wants to more than triple the exposed site to 3,000 square metres, and he believes more discoveries are yet to come.

​"It's one of the most diverse sites in the world."

McCrea will be unveiling more of his discoveries at a public presentation at the Tumbler Ridge library Thursday night, with more to follow across Western Canada in an effort to promote the preservation of the site.


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