When we think of dinosaurs, we imagine a creature that was at least 10 feet tall and weighed several tons, like the Tyrannosaurus rex. There were, however, much smaller dinosaurs that roamed the Earth many years ago. In fact, the smallest dinosaur tracks ever found were discovered in South Korea. And these footprints are believed to be 110 million years old.
The tiny footprints measured at just one centimeter long and they belonged to a sparrow-sized raptor that was so small it could fit in the palm of a human’s hand. The footprints revealed that the carnivorous dinosaur had two toes on the ground, while one toe was retracted and it walked on the legs that were around the same length as a matchstick.
These tiny footprints were found at an excavation site in South Korea in Jinju Innovation City in 2011 by Professor Kyung Soo Kim. Kim, who is from the Chinju National University of Education in South Korea, was at the site exploring the area for indications of cultural heritage in order to rescue and conserve them when he came across the tiny footprints. Anthony Romilio, who was part of the research team looking at the tracks, praised Kim by saying “You’ve got to hand it to him; spotting it…We say he has an eagle eye.” Kim explained that the team has named the tracks “Dromaeosauriformipes rarus” which translates to “rare footprints made by a member of the raptor family.”
While it is unclear whether the tracks came from an adult or one of their chicks, it is believed that they came from the babies. Also at the same site, researchers have discovered footprints made by pterosaurs, lizards, birds, frogs, turtles, and other mammals.
Dr. Romilio explained that there were previous findings of other small dinosaur babies, such as the Chinese Microraptor which was around the size of a crow, but the footprints found in South Korea were too small to have been made from the same dinosaur. While it is believed that the Chinese Microraptors only ate fish, the sparrow-sized raptor ate meat but it is uncertain what type of meat it fed on.
The dinosaurs ruled the Earth many millions of years ago before going extinct, and while numerous fossils have been found of huge dinosaur skeletons, this new discovery of the tiny sparrow-sized raptor is definitely a magnificent find.