Oldest reptile footprints found

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Reptile footprints, believed to be the oldest ever discovered, provide evidence of the first creatures to live exclusively on land, scientists say.

The 318 million-year-old fossilised reptile footprints were found in sea-cliffs on the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang of Royal Holloway, University of London.

The discovery proves the theory that reptiles were the first to make the continental interiors their home.

This is because reptiles do not need to return to water to breed unlike their amphibian cousins.

The rocks in which they occur show that the reptiles lived on dry river plains hundreds of miles from the sea.

These pioneers then paved the way for the diverse ecosystems that exist on land today, the study showed.

The study, undertaken with Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol and Canadian colleagues, was published in journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Professor Benton said: ''The footprints date from the Carboniferous Period when a single supercontinent (Pangaea) dominated the world....

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