Image: Dinosaur tracks
Two men look at fossilized dinosaur footprints marked with chalk by the shore near Obidos in western Portugal.
updated 10/11/2003 11:18:28 AM ET 2003-10-11T15:18:28

Scientists say they have found 130 fossilized dinosaur footprints in western Portugal, an area already rich in Jurassic-era finds. The tracks were made by a variety of dinosaur species and are well-preserved, said Octavio Mateus, curator of the Lourinha Museum in central Portugal.

THE TRACKS, found along the shoreline about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Lisbon, are believed to date from the Late Jurassic period.

“This is a very important discovery,” Mateus, a paleontologist, said by phone Friday. The Lourinha Museum has led efforts to excavate sites in the region.

“We’ve still got a wide area to dig, and we’re very excited about what else we might find,” Mateus said.

The tracks were discovered by a local man in August, who alerted the museum, which then sent a team of archaeologists and paleontologists to the site.

The Jurassic era, 180 million to 135 million years ago, was characterized by the dominance of dinosaurs and the appearance of flying reptiles and birds.

In recent years, the Atlantic coast of Portugal has yielded a dinosaur nest with more than 100 fossilized eggs, some of them containing embryos; one of the world’s longest tracks left by sauropods, which were giant four-legged plant eaters; and other dinosaur fossils.

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