FOOTPRINTS left by the Jurassic ancestors of today’s birds are rare, but a Slovak scientist, Ján Schlögl from the Department of Geology and Palaeontology at the Comenius University, has found one near the village of Thaiat, Rajasthan. The expedition discovered an imprint of the foot of a small Jurassic theropod, which scientists believe to be the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and modern birds, the Sme daily reported on January 20.

“It was a coincidence, but it often happens in palaeontology,” said Schlögl, as cited by the daily.

Theropod footprints are quite rare in India. The animal had to have left the footprint at a time when the Indian subcontinent was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. At that time the Indian continent was not yet part of Asia and neighboured Madagascar and Africa.

Schlögl, together with Adam Tomašových from the Geological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, went to India to attend an international congress on the Jurassic period to present the results of their research on coral reefs, which used to exist in the Carpathian region 170 million years ago. The international group of scientists also found time to make some expeditions, one of which took them into the environs of Thaiat.

The expedition in which Schlögl participated found footprints of two prehistoric animals: a small carnivorous theropod, which was approximately as big as a hen. An expert in prehistoric reptiles, Grzegorz Pienkowski from the Polish Geological Institute in Warsaw, attributed the second footprint to a significantly bigger carnivorous dinosaur, probably of the Eubrontes giganteus species.