Footprints of a large prehistoric reptile similar to a crocodile were recently unearthed in Italy’s Alps, proving there were survivors of the mass destruction occurred roughly 250 million years ago believed to have wiped-out dinosaurs. The traces were found at an altitude of 2,200 meters on the Altopiano della Gardetta in the province of Cuneo, in Piedmont region, by a joint team of Italian and Swiss geologists and paleontologists who published their findings on the Peer J journal.
The footprints date from a few million years after the dinosaur mass destruction and stand as a groundbreaking discovery. It had so far been thought that the extinction had left the Alpine zone uninhabitable, chasing away any survived creatures.The scientists believe the new exceptional findings show that the area, following the calamity, was not totally inhospitable to life. The research team came from the Trento Science Museum (MUSE), Zurich University’s Palaeontology Museum, and the universities of Turin, Roma La Sapienza and Genoa. Exceptionally well-preserved fossilized remains of front and rear claws about 30 centimeter in length of a huge, at least 4-meter long crocodile-like reptile were found on reddish-brown rocks under grass tufts.
The team was able to reconstruct the body of the creature that had probably been moving along an ancient marine coastline near a river delta when death struck. The footprints, embedded within the muddy soil of the former seabed which then rose to form the Alps’ rocky backbone, are the first of their kind and have been classified as Isochirotherium gardettensis, named after the discovery zone. The Alps, once submerged by the sea, are dotted with fossils and are believed to be a former coral reef. In the past parts of dinosaur skeletons have also been unearthed, often located by expert mountain-climbers. So next time you’re skiing down the slopes of some chic Italian, Swiss, French of Austrian resort imagine that you’re actually gliding on a former prehistoric ocean with a fascinating coral reef beneath your skis, dotted with animal footprints and bones that occasionally resurface.