Paris, Oct.7 (ANI): Amateur French fossil hunters have unearthed the largest dinosaur footprints in the world, belonging to a cousin of the diplodocus.
The "colossal" prints, left by giant sauropods weighing up to 50 tons, were found in the tiny French village of Plagne in the Jura plateau, near the southeastern city of Lyon, reports The Telegraph.
They were found in April this year but only recently authenticated by palaeontologists, the National Centre for cientific Research, CNRS, announced on Tuesday.
"According to the researchers' preliminary inspections, the footprints appear to be the biggest seen so far," the CNRS said.
"In addition, the tracks formed by the footprints extend over dozens, even hundreds, of metres (yards). Further digs will be carried out in the coming years and they may reveal that the site at Plagne is one of the biggest of its kind in the world," the CNRS added.
"This is a colossal find with global repercussions," said Michel Mazin, a CNRS researcher.
The footprints entail circular depressions in chalky sediment that has been dated to the Upper Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago, when a warm, shallow sea covered the area.
"The prints are very big, reaching 1.20 to 1.50 metres (3.9 to 4.9 feet) across, which corresponds to animals exceeding 30 or 40 tonnes in weight and measuring more than 25 metres (81 feet) in length," the CNRS said.
Researchers believe there could be many other footprints spread out over almost 25 acres and will take years to search properly.
Although subject to heated debate, possibly the biggest was Amphicoelias fragillimus, thought to have been between 130 to 200 feet long and up to 122 tons in weight.
It is also from the sauropod family - long-necked, four-footed herbivores. (ANI)