Dinosaur footprints are possibly the most iconic group of fossils found on the Yorkshire Coast. During the Middle Jurassic period, around 165 million years ago, Scarborough was a very different place. Firstly we were located much further South on the globe, around where North Africa is today. Large rivers flowed across the region, from the North towards the South and East. These rivers were big, the size of the Mississippi, and they moved huge amounts of sediment, forming the very distinctive sandstones we see today at places like Burniston and Cloughton (it is also the same sandstone used for the building stones of those same villages and many other locations).
The banks of these rivers were covered in lush vegetation including plants such as cycads, horsetails and tree ferns that we still recognise today, but no flowering plants or grass, it will be many millions of years before they arrive on the scene. The vegetation attracted the predominant animals of the age, the dinosaurs, which in turn left behind their footprints. Below is a section of cliff on Scarborough's south bay, it contains multiple footprints from a sauropod approximately the size of a pony. Can you see them? Scroll to the end of the article to see where they are!
Today we recognise nearly thirty different prints representing all the main types of dinosaurs, including both herbivores and carnivores. These footprints can still be seen on the coast and we run trips to see some of them. And of course in collections at places like Whitby Museum, the Yorkshire Museum and of the Rotunda in Scarborough.
If you’re lucky enough you may find a lose foot print small enough to collect for yourself like these fine examples we have currently for sale. Occasionally you may come across some very large prints or even trackways like the specimen below, originally found by Rob Taylor back in 2020.
We are fortunate enough to have a relatively small trackway available in store, but due to the size and weight it is not listed online! Pop in and have a look for yourself.
How many did you find? There are 5 sauropod footprints in this formation.