Tracking down a dinosaur foot print | Photos

Bungwahl aquatic ecologist, Dr Keith Bishop has temporarily switched fields to paleontology.

Paleontology is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch, which was about 11,700 years ago.

Keith has been aware of a set of sizeable circular indentations in a sloping rock shelf sitting above the high tide mark at Seal Rocks for about a decade.

But, it wasn’t until late last year, while researching and planning a trip to visit Broome’s world famous dinosaur track-ways, that Keith thought the indentations could be dinosaur tracks.

A few ABC News stories showing very large – about two metre diameter – roughly-circular sauropod tracks, certainly added to Keith’s curiosity.

“Sauropods were huge plant eaters – some are up to 25 metres long so you can imagine the size of the footprints.”

The key problem is that the rocks appear to be too old for dinosaurs.

Dr Keith Bishop

Wanting clarifications about his find Keith has got in touch with University of Queensland paleontologist, Dr Steven Sailisbury who has been undertaking research on dinosaur tracks in Australia

Dr Sailisbury’s specialist field is Ichnology the study of traces of animal behaviour including tracks and burrows.

Seeing some images of dinosaur tracks Dr Sailisbury has been working on made me wonder if the set of indentations I am familiar with could also be evidence of tracks, Keith said.

While he is excited about the prospect of a possible dinosaur track discovery in NSW, particularly on the Mid North Coast, he also is a little sceptical.

“The key problem is that the rocks appear to be too old for dinosaurs,” Keith said.

Keith believed the limited geological survey information he had suggested the rock – Yagon siltstone – was from the late Carboniferous (Namurian-Westphalian; 326-304 million years ago) period.

“But, perhaps this dating is wrong, or perhaps some form of large dinosaur was around earlier.

“I believe it is important not to turn off ideas on the basis of information which is incomplete or patchy at best.

“Good science and discoveries come from challenging existing notions, not falling in line behind them.

“Let’s see.”

If the tracks are verified the discovery would be an exciting find, Keith said.

“My understanding is that there have been no dinosaur tracks found in NSW before.

“However, some bones have been found out at Lightning Ridge.”

Tracks have been found in Queensland at Larks Quarry near Winton, Western Australia, along a 100km stretch of coast north of Broome and in Victoria, at a coastal site at Cape Otway.

“So a track finding in NSW would be special.”

Keith explained the white vertical and horizontal sticks in the photos were one metre in length.

This shows some of the indentations are almost one metre in diameter - if they are dinosaur tracks, they are not from small ones, he said.

At the time of going to print Keith had not heard back from Dr Sailisbury

“I heard there is a possibility he may be in Antarctica searching for dinosaur fossils there.”