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Fossilized tracks show dinosaurs could swim

By Cheng Yingqi  (China Daily)

09:30, April 12, 2013

Paleontologists make a mold of claw marks that might have been left by a swimming dinosaur in Zhaojue county, Sichuan province. (China Daily / Xing Lida)

One hundred million years ago, a fierce carnivorous dinosaur chased a smaller dinosaur all the way to the river bank. Because of its fear of water, the predator stopped, as its prey jumped into the water and swam away.

So the story would go in popular science literature, but a carnivorous dinosaur that lived somewhere in the mountainous area of southwestern Sichuan province did not stop. It jumped into the water and left a 15-meter track of claw marks.

On Monday, Chinese scientists announced that they found swim tracks of a carnivorous dinosaur, producing strong evidence that two-legged dinosaurs were good swimmers.

The swim tracks found on a mountain in Zhaojue county, Sichuan, are the first well-preserved example of a swimming carnivorous dinosaur in Asia, and an addition to the scant examples of such tracks being found anywhere.

The research was published in Chinese Science Bulletin on Monday.

"Dinosaur swim tracks have been found in Britain, Poland, the United States and Spain. Compared with earlier tracks, ours is special because it is well preserved and rather long," said Xing Lida, an author of the research.

"I suddenly had a flash when I saw the claw prints: every footprint was formed of three parallel claw marks, which extend all the way up along the rock ledge," Xing said.

"The dinosaur's claw marks show it was swimming along in this river and just its tiptoes were touching bottom," said Scott W. Persons IV, a co-author of the paper.

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