Over 130 million years ago, dinosaurs walked on muddy riverbanks, swamps, and beaches in Australia, leaving thousands of footprints behind. These footprints are now exposed on an 80 km stretch of coastline on the Dampier Peninsula on the northern coast of Western Australia. This collection of footprints, thought to be the greatest concentration of dinosaur footprints on Earth, was fully described and illustrated by paleontologists Steven Salisbury and colleagues in early 2017.
The tracks are exposed in rocks on the beach and were first discovered thousands of years ago by indigenous Australians. The local people incorporated the tracks into their cultural traditions. The three toed footprints were thought to have been made by Marala, the Emu Man. Some prints and trackways from the area were illustrated and described scientifically in the 20th century, but the current study was undertaken at the request of the indigenous cutodians of the trackways.
The footprints come from at least 11, and possibly as many as 21 different kinds of dinosaurs. Salisbury and colleagues found that the track ways in the Broome Sandstone, were formed in three major events, where flooding deposited sand over huge areas of land. The dinosaurs that created these tracks show a great number and variety of animals.