Dinosaurs & Reptiles

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Model of Skartopus (the small, orange carnivores at the bottom of the picture)
at the site of the footprints in Winton, Australia

Skartopus is a genus of theropod dinosaur of a group called 'Coelurosaurs', which lived in Australia in the Late Cretaceous Period.

The term Skartopus itself refers to the footprints found in Australia alongside those of contemporary herbivore Wintonopus. Due to the size of the prints, it was most likely a small carnivore, and may have eaten insects, frogs and small reptiles. The tracks that they left are about the size of tracks made by common chickens, so scientists have calculated that they would have been about 20cm high at the hip. They also walked and ran on their hind legs, and would have used their speed to hunt and to escape from predators.

Skartopus australis was named by Thulborn and Wade in 1984. It is considered to be a form taxon. It is a trace fossil. Its type locality is Lark Quarry dinosaur tracksite, which is in a Cenomanian lacustrine sandstone/claystone in the Winton Formation of Australia. It is the type species of Skartopus. It was assigned to Theropoda by Lockley in 1992 and Gierlinski et al. in 2009.

Skartopus' footprints were featured in an episode of the documentary When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, along with those of Wintonopus.

Though unnamed in the documentary, Skartopus appeared in an episode of the documentary Australia: The First 4.5 Billion Years, again, along with Wintonopus.


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