High-definition dinosaur skin traces left during a rain shower

by Phil Robinson

Published: 6 June 2019 (GMT+10)

Have you ever seen a dinosaur running in the rain? A stunning find of fossil trackways near Jinju City, Korea, is the closest thing so far that anyone alive today has got to such a scenario, other than watching it on a screen. A team of researchers have discovered what they’re calling small theropod dinosaur tracks, together with exquisitely preserved skin traces. They have given them the ichnogenus1 name Minisauripus.2,3 “These are the first tracks ever found where perfect skin impressions cover the entire surface of every track,” said paper author Professor Emeritus of Geology Martin Lockley.4 The paper stated that, “Such consistent ‘coverage’ is unprecedented for any known dinosaur track occurrences”.

nature.comfootprints
Figure from the Scientific Reports paper: (A) Map showing four-track Minisauripus trackway and raindrop impressions. (B) Shows microstratigraphy of part and counterpart of track-bearing slab. (C) The additional isolated fifth track on small unconnected slab.

Running in the rain?

The trace fossil footprints are made up of a sequence of four tracks, and one lone footprint. They are only an inch (2.5 cm) long and were made on a very thin layer of fine mud. The scientists calculated how fast the dinosaur was travelling by measuring how far apart the footprints were in relation to the size that Minisauripus is thought to be. Motoring along at around 9 km/h the purported dinosaur was progressing swiftly as it moved across the mud, which is one of the reasons it was able to leave such a clear footprint. If it had been going slowly, or standing in the same spot for any length of time the contact with the fine mud would have left a less detailed print. Each print resulted from a quick dab of the foot in the mud, with just enough impact to leave a perfect replica of the scaly foot—and in so doing, demonstrating a history of motion.

The research team also discovered water-drop impressions surrounding the footprints. This provided evidence that the tracks were made during or just after a rain shower, with one of the water-drop impressions actually being stepped on by the dinosaur.

Everything about this astonishing find speaks of rapid processes. There is no scenario in which a slow sedimentation process could have preserved these trace fossils, as a lengthy period of time would have seen the delicate footprints and raindrops eroded away. By default this also means that the rock layer within which they are contained was also formed quickly.

nature.comMinisauripus-trackway
High-definition footprints and rain drop impressions.

Verifying biblical history

While the authors of the paper claim that these amazingly detailed footprints were left behind during the ‘Cretaceous’ period (120–112 million years ago) it makes more sense to associate them with the first 150 days of the Noahic Flood (around 4,500 years ago), when the land was being progressively inundated. The observation of the trace fossils fits the BEDS (Briefly Exposed Diluvial Sediments) model.5 During this chaotic time there were briefly exposed layers of sediment, newly created by the surging flood waters as water levels fluctuated up and down. With a new layer temporarily exposed, creatures like the dinosaurs were briefly able to walk on it, and the rain drops strike it, before the water level rose again. As it did so, more muddy sediment quickly covered trackways and raindrop impressions, thereby enabling their preservation.

Those dinosaurs outside of Noah’s Ark would ultimately have perished, whereas those on board would have survived and lived with humans after the Flood. Such finds fit very well with the biblical history, but only serve to confuse those who wish to “deliberately overlook…. the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished” (2 Peter 3:5–6).

References and notes

  1. An ichnogenus is a classification based solely on fossil traces such as tracks or burrows where these are deemed to be distinctive and not from a type known from other evidence. Return to text.
  2. Kim, K., Lockley, M.G., Lim, J.D. & Xingand, L., Exquisitely-preserved, high-definition skin traces in diminutive theropod tracks from the Cretaceous of Korea, Scientific Reports 9, 2039, 2019 | doi:10.1038/s41598-019-38633-4. Return to text.
  3. There have been other scientific reports of fossil trackways assigned to Minisauripus—this new report is of what are considered to be the ‘oldest’ tracks so far found. Tracks from eight other localities in China and Korea are already known. It is of course their preserved skin impressions that are especially noteworthy. Return to text.
  4. University of Colorado Denver, Perfectly preserved dinosaur skin found in Korea, phys.org, 9 April 2019. Return to text.
  5. Oard, M.J., Dinosaur Challenges and Mysteries: How the Genesis Flood Makes Sense of Dinosaur Evidence—Including Tracks, Nests, Eggs, and Scavenged Bonebeds. Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, chapter 8, 2011. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

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Readers’ comments

Dee M.
I think points need to be made that Noah's "flood" wasn't just all flood waters. Based on this type of evidence and many others, there had to have been floods of slurry and thick mud as well. Rain waters, even if just surging flood waters would have removed alot of the track evidence laid down. But being quickly overlain with mud and then sealed over with more and more mud and layers of slurry material, seems more logical. Esp given the nature of the material these types of fossils are found in.
Philip Robinson
There was certainly plenty of sediment contained within the waters that flooded the world. You may be interested to read that mud can deposit rapidly from flowing water, as well as more information on how footprints were formed during the Noahic Flood in the Briefly Exposed Diluvial Sediments (BEDS) hypothesis. See for example: Argentina egg site supports BEDS model and Dinosaur and mammal tracks found together.
Nichola W.
When I was 18, I went to work on a cattle property in north Queensland. The Burdekin River ran through the property as did our untreated water supply. Occasionally it rained upstream and the flood waters would leave a layer of fine silt on the dry sandy river bed. When I walked along the river bed I became taller as the silt stuck to my feet in thicker and thicker layers.
After reading this article I was wandering what were the conditions that made the mud not want to stick to the base of the dinosaur foot. It would have been much drier than the few hours old layer that I walked on.
Philip Robinson
I recently published another article in Creation magazine: Dinosaur footprint treasure trove found in Britain, which explains this slightly further. There are a number of factors at play in relation to the preservation of the footprint which will include how much moisture there is in the mud, making it more or less soft (which will dictate how fine the definition of the footprint will be), how long the animal stands in the mud for (and the kind of movement it makes), and the weight of the animal. Hopefully you also get Creation magazine and are able to read the other article as well!
Robin B.
Such fossilized tracks being laid down like this I would have thought to be more consistent with non violent floodwaters such as a shallow pond where layers of sediment slowly build up over time through repeated wetting and drying periods. The violence of the waters from Noahs flood would surely wipe away any light tracks from a small dinosaur which has just run over soft mud.
Philip Robinson
Thanks for reading the article, and for your question. However, as pointed out in the article there is, there is no scenario in which a slow sedimentation process could have preserved these trace fossils. They would have been long gone in your suggested shallow pond scenario. We mustn't forget that not all of the action from the Floodwater would have been 'violent', although certainly a lot of it was. As mentioned earlier in the BED's model, as new land formations oscillated up and down, with Floodwater then running over them, and retreating from them, there would have been a mixture of both high and low energy water currents in action. If this thin layer was temporarily exposed long enough for the dinosaur (and rain drops) to leave their imprint, and then covered by a low energy water current rich in sediment, as has been demonstrated in experiments in stratigraphy, then they would have been preserved just as we have found them. This is totally consistent with the global Noahic Flood before the 150 day mark in which the whole world was then covered. I would encourage you to read more in our Geology section.

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