A set of 85 dinosaur footprints, so detailed that researchers can see skin and scales, have been hailed as the largest and best-preserved ever found from the Cretaceous period.
Dating from 100 million years ago, the footprints are from several species of dinosaur, and were uncovered near Hastings after coastal erosion along cliffs.
The Sussex coast has been a rich source of dinosaur finds for 160 years.
The University of Cambridge researchers found the footprints beteween 2014 and 2018, and include prints from huge beasts including Iguanadon and Ankylosaurus.
The Cretaceous is a geological period that spans 79m years from the end of the Jurassic Period and ended with the mass extinction of dinosaurs on the planet
Many of the footprints, which range in size from less than 2 cm to over 60 cm across, are so well-preserved that fine detail of skin, scales and claws can be seen.
Anthony Shillito, a PhD student in Cambridge’s department of earth sciences, said: ‘Whole body fossils of dinosaurs are incredibly rare.
‘Usually you only get small pieces, which don’t tell you a lot about how that dinosaur may have lived.
‘A collection of footprints like this helps you fill in some of the gaps and infer things about which dinosaurs were living in the same place at the same time.’
‘As well as the large abundance and diversity of these prints, we also see absolutely incredible detail.
‘You can clearly see the texture of the skin and scales, as well as four-toed claw marks, which are extremely rare.
‘You can get some idea about which dinosaurs made them from the shape of the footprints.
‘When you also look at footprints from other locations you can start to piece together which species were the key players.’
Dr Neil Davies, who conducted the study alongside Anthony Shillito, said: ‘To preserve footprints, you need the right type of environment.
‘The ground needs to be ‘sticky’ enough so that the footprint leaves a mark, but not so wet that it gets washed away.
‘You need that balance in order to capture and preserve them.’
The university say it is likely that there are many more dinosaur footprints hidden within the eroding sandstone cliffs of East Sussex.