THE oldest known record of amphibian tracks in the UK has been discovered in a sandstone fossil in the Dales.

The ancient track way, dating back 340 million years, was found imprinted on a block of sandstone from the base of Hardraw Force Waterfall, near Hawes.

The tracks belong to the earliest relatives of modern amphibians, called temnospondyls, specifically the edopoids, or “glutton-faced animals”.

In order to see it in further detail, the trace fossil which is currently on display at the Natural History Museum was 3D scanned.

This was done as part of a research project by a previous undergraduate student from the University of Birmingham, Hannah Bird.

At least two metres in length, edopoids were crocodile-like creatures. Researchers say they walked across the sandy bed of river delta along with contemporary invertebrate animals including arthropods, worms and molluscs.

Scientists say the paper, published in the Journal of the Geological Society, presents a rare insight into the early Carboniferous period and tetrapod diversification in the UK, as well as how temnospondyls spread across Euramerica.

Scientific associate of the Natural History Museum, Angela Milner said: “Although this specimen has been in the Natural History Museum’s collection for a long time, modern 3D scanning techniques have revealed a wealth of detail that was almost impossible to see on the original tracks.”