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Re: Re. Deinosuchus basics



Not wishing to sound critical (I usually do) but this kind of speculation
leads to more confusion than enlightenment in the pursuit of understanding
the past.

>In my study of late early-cretaceous (aptian) tracks in Maryland, I have found
>a 19 cm-wide (7.5 inch) croc-like pes print [Pes designation is tentative
>because I suppose someone might interpret it as a manus in the presumption
>that a 5th toe is broken off the sandstone slab -- which I doubt, as it looks
>complete to me, but I'm no expert.]
>Anyhow, Rob Weems, Greg Paul, and other more-knowledgeable persons who have
>visited the collection suggest it possibly could have been made by
>Deinosuchus.  GSP1954@aol.com did a calculation of probable size of the
>print-maker, but I do not recall the result except that it was large enough as
>to maybe have been made by at least a 'teenage' Deinosuchus (sans sneakers!),
>if not an adult.
>I send this information because the referenced track is definitely from a
>freshwater stream or lake-bed environment, not saltwater or marine.  [It is
>from the "dinosaur corridor -- Baltimotr-to-Washington.]  So, if the track was
>made by Deinosuchus, this particular one was a freshwater denizen, at least
>for that moment [(:-)].  John Schneiderman, in a recent posting,  mentions a
>possible Deinosuchus from North Carolina (but later in the late cretaceous).
>Part of a fossilized palm trunk was found within a few feet of this find, but
>either or both may have washed from upstream.
>-- For what it's worth, if anything.


While the foot print sounds very interesting, let's scotch the myth here
and now that it _is_ Deinosuchus. At the very out side the ultimate best
that could be said by a blind optomist is that it _might_ represent
Deinosuchus but that suchs an identification must be taken with a few ton
of salt. Big croc, yes, but Deinosuchus? In your dreams.

It is extremely speculative to associate prints with print makers under the
best of conditions. That would be that 90% of a fauna were a particular
taxa and 90% of the footprints from the same formation or synchronous
formations that were geographically close and where the prints are
structurally identical to those expected for that species. In this case, we
have one footprint in an early Cretaceous deposit while Deinosuchus is
known only from deposits some 50 million years younger and around 1000km
away. We do not have a foot of Deinosuchus from which we could infer what
the print would look like. And, in the face of evidence to the contrary,
wouldn't it be safe to speculate that the different environment this print
was found in compared to other Deinosuchus finds is more likely to indicate
a different taxon?

Now I do realise that the term "possible" was used liberally in the post,
but this kind of extended speculation has a nasty habit of turning up as an
"as-good-as-confirmed" occurance in later literature. And, if I ever see
this cited as "cf Deinosuchus sp." in a faunal list for the sight, I'll
join the Creationists and point out that turtles are the disproof of
evolution!

So let's show a little caution here.

Cheers,

Paul


Dr Paul M.A. Willis
Consulting Vertebrate Palaeontologist
Quinkana Pty Ltd
pwillis@ozemail.com.au