A pair of dinosaur foot (claw?) prints could be evidence of a friendly stroll in the sand on a German beach.
In a presentation to this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists in Poland, University of Souther Denmark researcher Pernille Venø Troelsen described her analysis of the findings. The university explained in a press release that one set of footprints belongs to a small, carnivorous dinosaur, and the other to a large one. The tracks show the smaller one skidding and tripping, possibly trying to keep up with the larger. So. Cute.
The release describes what sounds like a leisurely walk:
"A few times the small one has to trot in order to catch up with the big one. Their average speed is 6.3 km/h for the big one and 9.7 km/hour for the little one. It is notably slow for a carnivorous dinosaur that can run with more than 40 km/hour… "
Troelsen says the tracks may reveal a parent-child relationship between the pair. But the fossils don't necessarily show that the dinos were walking in tandem—it's possible that the tracks were made at different times, and that their proximity to each other is just a coincidence. Or a missed connection, if you prefer.
But there is mounting evidence that suggests dinosaurs were social beings. A 2009 study shows that Triceratops traveled in teen gangs. Researcher Stephen Brusatte said at the time that "what we've found seems to be a larger pattern among many dinosaurs that juveniles lived and traveled together in groups." So one can dream.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.