The Megapezia Fossil
Megapezia footprints were found at Hardraw Scaur in 1978 by Mr. S J Maude in 1977.
It might not be T Rex, but this represented a major find in the geological history of life on Earth.
It's one of the iconic images of evolution: way back in the prehistoric mists of time,
a brave fish crawls laboriously out of the water and onto dry land, the first wave
of a vertebrate invasion that leads directly (hundreds of millions of years later)
to dinosaurs, mammals, and human beings.
It's a good job Mr. Maude realised its importance!
Today the original is housed at The Natural History Museum in London, such is its
The Natural History Museum in London:
Megapezia footprints. Specimen of fossilised animal footprints preserved in rock.
Fossil footprints have their own taxonomy, as it is not usually possibly to
definitively link them to a specific animal. These ones are classified as
Megapezia, and are thought to have been made by an early amphibian ancestor
or tetrapod, such as an edopoid or an eryopoid-type temnospondyl.
This specimen was obtained in 1977, from the rocks of the Hardraw
Scaur (Yoredale series), Yorkshire, UK. It dates from around
340 million years ago, during the Carboniferous.
Extract from a letter from the Natural History Museum,
Department of Palentology, July 2002
"The slab came from the Yoredale series which are Visean, late Lower Carboniferous, in age.
The slab was collected by Mr S J Maude in 1977,
he donated it to the National Collection in 1978 where it is registered under BMNH R 9378....
The specimen is on display in our permanent exhibition 'From the Beginning'
which outlines the evolution of life through time.
I have identified the prints as cf. Megapezia. They are similar to the ichnogenus Megapezia
Matthew, 1903, from the late Tournasian of Nova Scotia. Footprints have their own separate
system of scientific nomenclature since, with very few exceptions, they cannot be associated
with skeletal remains. Most footprint workers suggest that Megapezia might belong to either
an edopoid or ans eryopoid tmnosondyl (temnospondyls are the Palaeozoic group from which
modern amphibians derive).
Both these groups contain quite large, sometimes armoured
amphibians superficially resembling crocodiles in appearance and habits, active
semi-terrestrial carnivores, but unlike crocodiles, breeding in water with aquatic gilled larvae..."