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Skye: The Island Where Dinosaurs Walked

The dinosaur footprints on Skye are between 162 and 175 million years old. The island contains about 10% of all the mid-Jurassic dinosaur species we know of today. Want to walk in the footsteps of giants? This is the place which paleontologists dream of.

There are many places in Scotland where it is possible for you to go and view fossils. While most of these are from the 330 million year old age range (especially in the lowlands), there are those which contain the imprints of dinosaurs. If you want to see a dinosaur fossil in Scotland, though, you either have to go to a museum or head north to Skye.

Here is what you need to know about the dinosaurs of Skye.

the photo shows the little spines of a polished horn coral fossil.
The underside of a horn coral fossil - not a dinosaur.

What Dinosaurs Lived in Skye?

Famously, sauropod footprints found on Skye show evidence of these massive beasts. They could reach heights of 60 ft tall – which is about 3-4 times the size of a giraffe – although the ones in Scotland were around half-a-giraffe tall.

Sauropods are of the same family of dinosaurs as the diplodocus. Herbivorous dinosaurs, they walked the earth from the beginning of the Jurassic period to the end of the Cretaceous period[i]. According to Atlas Obscura [ii], the sauropod dinosaur footprints on Skye are approximately 170 million years old.

Scientists have also found smaller species of tree-pronged-toed footprints, indicating bipedal carnivores which speculation theorises may be ancestors to the T-Rex. This more recent discovery means that there were real life, dangerous carnivores on Skye, a discovery which rocked what we know about the pre-historic world.

Are the dinosaur Footprints in Skye Real?

Absolutely! There are more than fifty notable dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye, to the North West of Scotland. and even evidence of meat-eating dinosaurs! Altogether, Skye hold around 10% of the world’s Mid-Jurassic Dinosaurs and a further 15% of all the mid-Jurassic dino sites on the planet.

This magical island also sports fairy pools, mountains which produce sapphires and all manner of rare gems,

Which New Dinosaur Species was Discovered on Skye?

Almost unbelievably, the Isle of Skye was once sub-tropical and lay far closer to the equator. This allowed dinosaurs to breed here with adequate food resources. Although the first footprints were found on Skye by PhD student Julian Andrews in 1982, The discovery of carnivores has been a much more recent event.

In 1994, a bone from an early-Jurassic therapod made an appearance, later backed by another bone found by BP oil workers. In 2006 a Pterosaur fossil was uncovered with a further pterosaur skull found in 2017. Ammonites have appeared in the rocks here, as have many types of dinosaur bone from the mid-Jurassic period[iii].

Where to Learn About Dinosaurs on Skye?

The Staffin Dinosaur Museum has a huge collection of dinosaur fossils found scattered around the island. Established in 1976 by Dugald Ross, it contains a number of identified remains from the area. The museum is inside an old school building and is still run by the man himself, who will give you first hand accounts of the discoveries.

What’s On Skye also have a detailed guide of where to go hunting for dinosaur fossils.

Where are the Dinosaur Footprints in Scotland?

If you are visiting the Isle of Skye, head to Rubhan am Braithrean – Brother’s Point – to look for the largest dinosaur track of footprints in the country. You will also find dinosaur fossils in Staffin Bay or Score Bay. Remember to stop in at the Staffin Dinosaur Museum for the guided tour while you are there.

Can You Fossil Hunt on Skye?

The Fossils on Skye are both a limited resource and protected by the government. They have SSSI status and no parts of them should be removed. Go and look – but don’t touch. In 1994, media coverage of the newly discovered carnivores led to a flood of people, all wanting to take part of the fossilised dinosaur footprints with them.

If you come across someone selling one of these, you should probably call Edinburgh Geological Society and tell them about it.

Get Your (Southern) Scottish Fossils Here!

Although our selection of Scottish fossils for sale doesn’t include dinosaur footprints, we do have a variety of material from a bit further south. Shop for fossilised shells from Ayrshire, coral fossils from East Lothian, and crinoid stems and fossil soup from all over the lowlands through our online UK fossil shop.

Read More About Scottish Fossils

Want to know more about dinosaurs in the UK? The following resources might help:

·       Nature Scot will tell you about what you can and cannot collect.

·       National Museums Scotland have a collection of over 250,000 fossils.

·       The Scottish Geology Trust can give you more information on the diversity of Scotland’s fossils.

·       Read about the dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight here.

1 Comment

Isn’t it also called a hagstone?

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