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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 Ven√ł 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‚ÄĒit'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.