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Re: Big Dinosaur Prints Found



Donna wondered:
----- Original Message -----
From: <Kimba4evr@aol.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 9:56 AM
Subject: Re: Big Dinosaur Prints Found


"traces of their tails"??? If dinos didn't drag their tails how could this
be?"

    While tail drag traces by dinosaurs are quite rare, they are not
unknown, and in recent years some have been well documented in publication,
although I do not have the literature at hand for immediate reference.  Such
exception-to-the-rule traces are known from either the Late Triassic and/or
the Jurassic, and even from the Cretaceous as well.

    In fact, somewhere around here I have a 16mm movie from 1985, which I
took of two of my children walking among and sitting within some Triassic
(or were they Early Jurassic?) dinosaur tracks located somewhere generally
west of the Hopi mesas in Arizona.  It may have been in the general vicinity
of Tuba City.  Anyhow, one trackway of rather large three-toed theropodan
tracks (possible of the ichnogenus Kayentapus, which some writers have said
may have been produced by Dilophosaurus) had a clearly defined tail drag all
along the trackway, between the good-sized, beautifully preserved
footprints.  This was definitely the trackway of a dinosaur and not that of
some other reptile.  Furthermore, there was nothing ambiguous about the tail
drag trace.  It was not a crack in the substrate, and as the trackway
veered, it did likewise.  (Other trackways, there, showed no tail drag.)

    I have wondered whether this was make by a dinosaur that was just having
a 'bad tail day', a dino with pathology in, maybe, the first, second, and/or
third caudals, perhaps, or just by some libertarian or politically
incorrect, non-conformist theropod.  :-)

    Now, as to the press report's claim that the newly found Chinese tracks,
"...are the largest ever found".  That is demonstrably incorrect.  "One
footprint was almost four feet long..." it says.   Sauropod tracks well over
four feet long are known from Europe.

    While size is important in some contexts, the new track discoveries in
China are very important and interesting for other reasons (and I'd love to
know more about them).  Also, the quality of both tracks and trackways are
important, and not so much whether they are the biggest, second biggest,
etc. But, such exaggeration grabs the attention of the media.  And I guess
since the Chinese were first with rockets, first with the bagpipe, and even
the inventors spaghetti, someone there would like them to be the biggest in
dinosaur tracks, also.  :-)

    Ray Stanford