The prints are small – measuring a few centimetres in length – which suggests the earliest dinosaur-like animals were about the size of domestic cats.
They would have weighed at most a kilogram or two, they walked on four legs and they were very rare animals.
Their footprints comprised only two or three per cent of the total footprints on this site.
The footprints date to just two million years after the end-Permian mass extinction – the worst mass extinction in the history of the planet.
According to Stephen Brusatte, from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who led the research: “In geological terms this is just the blink of an eye.”
He told BBC News: “We can basically say that the dinosaur lineage originated in the immediate aftermath of this extinction which is a completely new idea and a very radical re-interpretation of the early history of dinosaurs”.