Dinosaur: Chirotherium Storetonese
In June 1838, workmen at Storeton Woods Quarry discovered a fossilised dinosaur footprint in the sandstone they were quarrying.
Here is a photo from a cast taken from the original find which clearly shows why the animal was called ‘Chirotherium’ or ‘Hand animal’.
The footprints were originally left by a reptile over 200 million years ago in the soft mud, perhaps at a lake edge within the tropical desert which covered most of northern Europe.
The footprints were preserved in the drying mud and were eventually buried by sand blowing in from desert.
The sands were compacted and turned to stone. Leaving the footprints to be discovered over 200 million years later by the Quarrymen.
(Source: Thurstaston Vistor Centre)
Dinosaurs’ footprints were first found in Storeton Quarries in the 1830’s. No bones or other material remains were discovered. As the prints resembled human handprints the creature was named from the Greek words, CHIR for hand, and THERIUM for beast i.e. CHIROTHERIUM or CHEIROTHERIUM. From the footprints, scientists have extrapolated an image of the dinosaur.
This Picture of CHIROTHERIUM is from Dr Geoffrey Tresise's splendid article on MERSEYSIDE'S DINOSAUR which he did specially for our Feb. '94 NEWSLEAF.
The footprints of Triassic Chirotherium (or sometimes referred to Cheirotherium) was found in the Storeton Quarries in June 1838, striking a resemblance to the prints of human hands, the quarrymen believed them being left behind by the drowned victims of Noah’s Flood, but scientists disagreed with this theory. These Chirotherium footprints where continued to be found within the sandstone quarries until their closure 80 years later. No bone or other remains were ever found.
From the start there was no lack of speculation about the type of animal that might be responsible for leaving the tracks if not a human as the quarrymen believed, as there was limited information available in 1838 scientists thought it of might been bears, great apes, giant marsupials and a toad-like amphibians, which were all favoured. It wasn’t until 1965 that a skeleton of what is now believed to have been the track maker was finally found.
The 220 million year old Chirotherium appears to be quite common during the Triassic period and has left “similar” footprints all over the world from Germany, France, Spain and Italy and in the present century, as far afield as Arizona and Argentina. They were typically found in desert sandstones which were devoid of other fossil remains.
The dinosaur’s name “Chirotherium” is from the Greek words “CHIR” for “Hand” and “THERIUM” for “Beast” this is because the dinosaur had hand like feet with five fingered (pentadactyl) limbs and an extended thumb, theorised evolved to help with grip / movement through the sand and mud.
Presently 5 or 6 (currently uncertain if the 5th came from 30ft Track way ) of the original stone footprints from Storeton Woods Quarry are being stored at separate locations:
The first being the property of the Sefton Museum Service is currently on loan-term loan to National Museums Liverpool and is on display on the fourth floor of World Museum Liverpool.
The second is displayed in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum in London alongside their Diplodocus skeleton.
The third is at the University Museum, Oxford
The fourth in the collections of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.
The fifth slab in the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge (but there is no information on how and when it was acquired)
The sixth Williamson Art Gallery (currently on loan to Manchester University)
Birkenhead Priory: Cast ?
Thurstaston Country Park: Cast of the original on display, other information of history of wirral.
#[Doorway in vestibule Christ Church a cast?]
(Source: Dr Geoffrey Tresise's)
Information about the Chirotherium Storetonese
Habitat: Desert Dweller
Millennium Representation of Chirotherium Storetonese
Friends of Storeton Woods to celebrate the millennium, created a scale representation of the Chirotherium Storetonese dinosaur (8’-6”) carved by Gordon Plumb, Ken Whittle, Eric Forsyth (with the permission of F.o.S.W Committee and the Woodland Trust) into some of the original sandstone rock which surround the border.
For more information please read: F.o.S.W Newsleaf Issue No 35 December 1999.
The location of the carving is secluded as a hidden surprise for guests but if you didn't find it, here is a clue.
Follow the path as far as you can, the dinosaur is running from you, he won't be on the main path try the outer paths, come on he doesn't want to make it easy for you, and the tramline is too noisy, and the quarrymen scare him. Maybe you've got him corned or maybe he fled to Hancock woods, more than likely the tired old dinosaur’s, has gone for a Rest, so maybe you should have a quite drink with your family after the chase, you never know... you might be impressed.
The location is: immediately opposite the Travellers Rest pub, on the inside of the sandstone walling between the Scott's Woods (Storeton Woods) and Hancock Woods (Rest Hill)