Officials were alerted to the damage of the footprint a dinosaur footprint at the renowned Dinosaur Dreamingsite within the Bunurong Marine Park after a school group was taken to see it last week.
Vandals used an instrument to chip away at the toes of the print, which is around 30cm wide.
Upon the original discovery in 2006, palaeontologists from Museum Victoria and Monash University made a silicon rubber mould of the footprint. Rather than remove and store it at the Melbourne Museum, they decided it should be left in the rock, so visitors to the site could have the thrill of seeing it in its natural state.
The footprint before the damage
Parks Victoria said: "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.
"It is sad to think a person or persons who knew the location of the footprint would deliberately damage an important local icon that is recognised as being of international scientific significance."
Mike Cleeland, from the Bunurong Environment Centre, said he hoped the footprint could be repaired to a certain extent.
He said: "The thrill of seeing a real dinosaur footprint has been diminished with the callous act of vandalism.
"Fortunately, I was able to retrieve some of the broken pieces of the footprint and hopefully the technicians at Museum Victoria may be able to restore the footprint to some degree."
Parks Victoria added: "It is quite disheartening for a site of such significance that attracts hundreds of people every year to the area has been damaged in such a careless manner.
"Parks Victoria will be investigating the matter further."
23 animals you probably didn't know existed
23 animals you probably didn't know existed
What is it? The leafy seadragon is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, which includes seadragons, pipefish, and seahorses. Size: Eight to 10 inches. Lives: Along the southern and western coasts of Australia. Eats: Plankton and small crustaceans. It feeds by sucking up the small crustaceans - like amphipods and mysid shrimp - plankton, and larval fish through its long, pipe-like snout Fun fact: The lobes of skin that grow on the leafy seadragon are merely for camouflage, giving it the appearance of seaweed.
What is it? An Australian lizard, also known as the mountain devil, the thorny lizard, or the moloch. Size: Up to 20cm (eight inches) in length. Lives: In the arid scrubland and desert that covers most of central Australia. The thorny dragon can survive for up to around 20 years. Eats: Ants are its favourite fare, and thorny dragons often eat thousands of ants in one day. Fun fact: The thorny dragon is covered in hard, sharp spines that dissuade attacks from predators by making it difficult to swallow. It also has a false head on its back. When it feels threatened by other animals, it lowers its head between its front legs, and then presents its false head.
What is it? The margay is a solitary and nocturnal small cat native to Central and South America that has been listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN since 2008. Size: Body length 19 to 31 inches, and a tail length of 13 to 20 inches. Lives: From southern Mexico, throughput Central America and in northern South America east of the Andes. They are found almost exclusively in areas of dense forest. Eats: Small mammals (sometimes including monkeys), birds, eggs, lizards and tree frogs, guinea pigs. Fun fact: May spend its entire life in the trees, leaping after and chasing birds and monkeys through the treetops. It is one of only two cat species with the ankle flexibility necessary to climb head-first down trees (the other being the clouded leopard). Its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees, and it’s able to jump up to 12 feet horizontally.
What is it? Lampreys are any jawless fish characterised by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Looks a bit like an eel. Size: From five to 40 inches. Lives: Lampreys live mostly in coastal and fresh waters. Some species are found in land-locked lakes. They are found in most temperate regions except those in Africa. They are not distributed in the tropics. Eats: Currently there are about 38 known species of lampreys. Although they are well known for boring into the flesh of other fish to suck their blood, in fact only a minority do so; only 18 species of lampreys are actually parasitic. Fun fact: Parasitic lampreys feed on prey as adults by attaching their mouthparts to the target animal's body, then using their teeth to cut through surface tissues until they reach blood and body fluid. They’ve even been known to attack humans when starving. Non-parasitic lampreys, which are usually freshwater species, do not feed as adults; they live off reserves acquired as ammocoetes (larvae), which they obtain through filter feeding.
What is it? A canid (of the family canidae, including dogs, wolves, foxes and jackals) indigenous to East Asia. Size: They have long torsos and short legs. Total lengths can range from 18 to 28 inches. Lives: As well as Asia, the raccoon dog is now abundant throughout Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as Serbia, France, Romania, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Eats: Raccoon dogs are omnivores that feed on insects, rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, molluscs, and carrion. Fun fact: They are monogamous animals, with males also taking an active role in raising the pups. They are also the only canids known to hibernate.
What is it? A moth from the family Sphnigidae, distinguished among moths for their rapid, sustained flying ability. Size: A wingspan of 1.6 to 1.8 inches. Lives: Throughout much of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Eats: They are particularly fond of nectar-rich flowers. Fun fact: Its long proboscis and its hovering behaviour, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird while feeding on flowers.
What is it? A venomous viper species endemic to west and central Africa. Size: It has a total length that sometimes exceeds about 31 inches. Lives: In the rainforests of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, eastward through southern Nigeria to Cameroon, southern Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, northern Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, western Kenya and the Bioko Island. Eats: Frogs. And more frogs. Fact: This viper species is responsible for at least two human deaths.
What is it? A massive woodlouse. Sort of. A giant isopod is any of the almost 20 species of large isopods (crustaceans distantly related to the shrimp and crabs, which are decapods) in the genus Bathynomus. They’re noted for their resemblance to the common woodlouse, to which they are related. Size: The giant isopod is a good example of deep-sea gigantism. It reaches an average length of between 7.5 and 14.2 inches. Lives: In cold, deep waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, usually between 560ft to the pitch darkness at 7,020ft. Eats: They are generalist scavengers, but are mostly carnivorous and feed on dead whales, fish, and squid; they also eat slow-moving prey such as sea cucumbers, sponges, even live fish. They are known to attack trawl catches. Fun fact: As food is scarce in the deep ocean, giant isopods are adapted to long periods of famine and have been known to survive over five years without food in captivity.
What is it? Glaucus atlanticus is a species of small, blue sea slug. Size: Can grow up to 1.2 inches in length. Lives: Throughout the world's oceans, in temperate and tropical waters. It has been recorded from the east and south coasts of South Africa, European waters, the east coast of Australia and Mozambique. Eats: It particularly likes the dangerously venomous Portuguese man o’war (a jellysigh-like creature). Fun fact: Glaucus atlanticus is able to swallow the venomous siphonophores (such as the Portuguese man o' war), and store them in the extremities of its finger-like cerata. Picking up the animal can therefore result in a painful sting, with symptoms similar to those caused by the Portuguese man o' war.
What is it? The goblin shark is a rare species of deep-sea shark. Sometimes called a "living fossil", its lineage dates back some 125 million years. Size: Usually between 10ft and 13 ft long, though it can grow considerably larger. Lives: They inhabit upper continental slopes, submarine canyons, and seamounts throughout the world at depths greater than 330ft. Eats: Fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. Fun fact: Its long snout is covered with ampullae of Lorenzini that enable it to sense minute electric fields produced by nearby prey, which it can snatch up by rapidly extending its jaws.
What is it? A species of marine crab that lives in the waters around Japan. Size: It has the largest leg span of any arthropod, reaching up 12 ft and weighing up to 42lb. Lives: Mostly off the southern coasts of the Japanese island of Honshū, from Tokyo Bay to Kagoshima Prefecture. They live at depths of 490ft to 1,970ft. Eats: It’s an omnivore, consuming both plant matter and animals, as well as acting as a scavenger consuming dead animals. Some have been known to scrape the ocean floor for plants and algae while others pry open the shells of mollusks. Fun fact: It has a gentle disposition, despite its terrifying appearance.
What is it? An unusual fish found around the Galapagos Islands. Marine biologists believe the bright red lips of the red-lipped batfish may be used to enhance species recognition during spawning. Size: Up to around 15 inches. Lives: Around 30m deep in the water, in the Pacific Ocean around the Galapagos Islands and south to Peru. Eats: Other small fish and small crustaceans like shrimps and mollusks. Fun fact: Batfish are said to resemble some characteristics that a bat possesses. They are not good swimmers, they are bottom-dwellers who “walk” across the ocean floor with their altered pectoral fins.
What is it? The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal endemic to Madagascar. It is a member of the Eupleridae, a family of carnivorans closely related to the mongoose family. Size: Adults have a head-body length of 28 to 31 inches. Lives: In low numbers throughout Madagascar in remaining tracts of forest, preferring pristine undisturbed forest habitat. Eats: Predominantly lemurs, but sometimes also reptiles, birds, rodents and crustaceans. Fun fact: One of the more peculiar physical features of this species is its external genitalia. The male fossa has an unusually long penis and baculum (penis bone), reaching to between his forelegs when erect.
What is it? The zebra duiker is a small antelope found primarily in Liberia. Size: An adult can grow to 35 inches in length, 18 inches in height, and 44lb in weight. Lives: In lowland primary rainforests in areas of the midwestern parts of Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. Eats: Fruit, foliage, and seeds. Though rare, they may eat rodents on occasion. Fact: Zebra duikers are common prey to leopards, African gold cats, African rock pythons, and the crowned eagle. Humans also hunt them for bush meat. They are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN due to deforestation, loss of habitat, and overhunting.
What is it? A relatively large rodent, closely related to guinea pigs. Sometimes described as being rabbit-like. Size: Around 17 inches tall. Lives: The Patagonian mara is only found in Argentina, and is considered to be a near threatened species, being greatly affected by hunting and habitat alteration. Eats: Grasses and herbs. Fun fact: Being monogamous, pairs of maras stay together for life with replacement of partners only occurring after its death.The male has almost the sole responsibility in maintaining the pair by following the female wherever she goes. Aww.
What is it? A long-necked species of antelope. Size: Males are larger and can grow to around 41 inches tall. Lives: In the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes region. Eats: Gerenuks browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing on their rear legs and elongating their necks. Fun fact: Gerenuks do not appear to drink water; they get enough water from the plants they eat, and, because of this, they can survive in very dry habitats.
What is it? Also known as a gavial, the gharial is a fish-eating crocodile native to the Indian Subcontinent. Size: The gharial is one of the longest of all living crocodilians, measuring up to 20.5ft. Lives: India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The global gharial population is estimated at fewer than 235 individuals, which are threatened by loss of riverine habitat, depletion of fish resources and use of fishing nets. Eats: Fish and small crustaceans. Fun fact: The elongated, narrow snout is lined by 110 sharp interdigitated teeth, and becomes proportionally shorter and thicker as an animal ages.
What is it? The axolotl is also known as a Mexican walking fish, and is a type of
salamander. Size: Usually between nine and 12 inches. Lives: The axolotl is only native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. However, Lake Chalco no longer exists and Lake Xochimilco remains a remnant of its former self, existing mainly as canals. The wild population has been put under heavy pressure by the growth of Mexico City, and the axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's annual Red List of threatened species. Eats: The axolotl is carnivorous, eating small prey such as worms, insects, and small fish in the wild. Fact: Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate limbs.
What is it? A crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean that is also called the yeti crab because of the layer of "furry" setae on its arms. Size: Around six inches long. Lives: The first known species of these blind white crabs, Kiwa hirsuta, were found near boiling-hot hydrothermal vents roughly 7,500 feet deep. In 2006, scientists uncovered another species of yeti crab living in cold, methane-seeping fissures about 3,300 feet deep near Costa Rica. Eats: Plankton, shrimp, mussels and, term… bacteria that lives in the setae of its claws. Fun fact: The "hairy" pincers also contain filamentous bacteria, which the creature uses to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water emitted by the hydrothermal vents where it lives.
What is it? A frog species found in the Western Ghats in India. Size: Around seven inches long. Lives: Quite widely distributed in the Western Ghats, ranging from the Camel's Hump Hill Range in the north, all the way to the northernmost portions of the Agasthyamalai Hill Range in the south. Eats: Termites. Fun fact: This frog spends most of the year underground, surfacing only for about two weeks, during the monsoon, to mate.
What is it? A type of penguin native to New Zealand. Size: It’s the fourth largest penguin, measuring 24 to 31 inches long. Lives: On the south-east coast of the South Island, most notably on Otago Peninsula, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, and sub-Antarctic islands of Auckland and Campbell Islands. It also now lives on some of the main islands of New Zealand. Eats: Around 90% of the yellow-eyed penguin's diet is made up of fish, with some cephalopods like squid thrown in. Fun fact: They search for prey along the seafloor, and can dive up to depths of around 400ft.
What is it? The dominant fish group in the cold continental shelf waters surrounding Antarctica. Size: Not commonly larger than six inches. Lives: In the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica. Eats: Plankton, krill, fish, and crabs. Fun fact: They are the only vertebrates that lack both red blood cells and haemoglobin, giving them their eerie see-through appearance. Another factoid? They can survive freezing temperatures from -2 to -4C, and therefore make up 95% off all marine life in the region.
What is it? The tarsier is the world's smallest primate and a protected species in the Philippines. Size: The head and body range from 10cm to 15 cm in length, but the hind limbs are about twice this long (including the feet), and they also have a slender tail from 20 to 25 cm long. Their fingers are also elongated, with the third finger being about the same length as the upper arm. Lives: Several Southeast Asian islands, including the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Sumatra. Eats: They are primarily insectivorous, and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on birds, snakes, lizards, and bats. Fun fact: Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes; each eyeball is approximately 16mm in diameter and is as large as its entire brain.