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Re: Muddy feet, or not? (JOKE)
I recently purchased part of a tyrannosaurid trackway, identified as T. rex.
(Further specimens are on sale, but per the list's charter I shall not name the
source.) The tracks were clearly left by a juvenile, perhaps a hatchling, as
each print was only 35mm long and 30mm wide. Three toes were clearly splayed
out and seem to be pointed, almost triangular.
No distinct claw traces are visible, but there is a small impression behind
each footprint presumably corresponding to the retroverted digit IV. (It is
IV, isn't it?) This is included in the length quoted above.
A particularly unusual property of this ichnofossil is the matrix itself.
Although it has of course hardened considerably over the 70 million years or so
since the tracks were made, its chemical composition seems to be largely
unchanged. This particular trackway was left not in wet clay, but in softened
A sample of the material was subjected to a battery of bioassays, which
confirmed that the principal ingredients were milk and cocoa, but suggested
that further testing would be desirable.
The fortuitous preservation of this fossil throws a fascinating insight into
North American Cretaceous ecology. It is likely that insects were attracted to
sun-melted chocolate, but became trapped in the sticky surface (none were found
in this specimen, however). The juvenile tyrannosaur may have been in pursuit
of insects, but it might equally have been accompanying one or more adults
hunting sweet-toothed ceratopians.
I also have a Brachiosaurus egg, which is similar in shape to a Gallus egg, and
is approximately 150mm long by 100mm across. The effects of heat and pressure,
and exposure to circulating chemicals for millions of years have led to a
process of molecule-by molecule replacement of the original shell by a mixture
of milk and white chocolate.
If you have any enquiries concerning these and similar specimens, I will be
happy to investigate further.
All the best,