A worthy trip: Dinosaur footprints in Portugal

Dinosaur footprints! Amazing they survived until today. We’re talking about footprints on mud that were printed millions of years ago, but have been kept safe for all this time. That fact alone makes my blood run hot, so once I heard there were some nearby I had to check them out.

Overview of the site: An abandoned limestone quarry
Overview of the site: An abandoned limestone quarry

And what a blast it was! It’s worth the drive to Portugal just to see the fossilized tracksite. The place is 10 km south of Fatima, where there’s this big catholic sanctuary, so getting a place to sleep shouldn’t be a concern. If you want to make something more out of your trip there, visit the Batalha monastery too, another impressive landmark.

A small map of the surroundings. Click on it to get directions via Google Maps.

But enough with directions, let’s get to the fun part: About 175 million years ago sauropods (big herbivorous dinosaurs) were walking the earth. Eventually they walked through a muddy plain near a shore where the village of Boirio is right now. This plain got flooded by the nearby sea, and more mud was deposited on top of the tracksite; since then petrification has preserved the prints until our time. They got uncovered during quarrying of the rocks above them and were protected by the portuguese: Well done indeed.

Sequence of events, from dino to fossil footprint.

If you’re still not convinced about the visit, I’ve read here it’s considered one of the most important sauropod footprint sites in the world. You can read more about the Fatima dinosaur tracksite on these links:

And here’s my try on interpreting the trackways, the direction of movement and where the fingers were:

Pathway with 5 footprints. One has its surface marked in red and explained.
Pathway with 5 footprints. One has its surface marked in red and explained.

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