Vandals damage ancient dinosaur footprint in Australia

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A dinosaur footprint in VictoriaImage source, PARKS VICTORIA
Image caption,
The damaged footprint with missing toe sections

Vandals have partially destroyed a 115-million-year-old dinosaur footprint in a national park in Australia.

Palaeontologists first discovered the imprint of the theropod dinosaur in a tidal rock platform in Flat Rocks, Victoria in 2006.

The area is a famous dinosaur fossil area where thousands of fossil bones and teeth have been found.

Authorities believe the vandals used a hammer to chip away at the three-toed mark which is about 30cm-wide.

"It looked like somebody had taken to it with either a hammer or a rock, and had broken off sections of the toes," Parks Victoria ranger Brian Martin told the BBC.

They left the "freshly broken" pieces scattered around the rock platform, he said.

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An official leading a school group to the area last week discovered the damage.

Mr Martin said the perpetrators deliberately targeted the imprint, which had been left uncovered for public enjoyment.

"They would need to know exactly where it is to find it, many people quite easily walk right past it," he said.

Image source, PARKS VICTORIA
Image caption,
The dinosaur footprint before the damage

State authorities said they were disheartened by the damage.

"The significance of the footprint is that it represents a moment frozen in time when a meat-eating dinosaur stood on that spot and left an impression of its foot," Parks Victoria said on Wednesday.