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Startlingly large Early Cretaceous mammal (seemingly) track...
No doubt, mammals are not dinosaurs, but since mammals were a part of
the dinosaur's environment, I trust this intrusion of a seeming mammal (or,
rather, its footprint) into the dinosaur list will not be inappropriate.
On Saturday, May 11, during field work here in Maryland, another member
of the Mesozoic Track Project (MTP) and I happened upon an Early Cretaceous
track so startling and remarkably shaped that we simultaneously blurted out,
Normally, a pes or manus print 40 mm across and about 35 mm long, would
not have been particularly exciting, but the thing I was by now holding in
my trembling (excitement-induced) hand seemed to figuratively shout of a
mammalian track maker that might have been able to say [:o)], "Hey guys, put
me in with your biggest house kitty and/or toughest rooster, and the fur and
feathers will fly!"
John Bois, 'eat your heart out'! A mammalian trackmaker of that size
with a predilection for eggs in its diet might well have 'done-in' many
dinosaurs-in-potential. :) (But surely wouldn't account for the K/T
Kidding aside, the 40 mm (across) footprint (Was it made by a manus, or
by a pes?) has five digits, shows a nice sized pad behind four of them (the
pad somewhat squared-off in back). Off to the right side of the other four
digits, the additional digit looks like nothing so much as an opposed thumb,
and is curves well back and away from the other digits and the pad.
In fact, the imprint reminds me very much of the shape of a human hand
(but an exceptionally wide one, when width is compared to the length) with a
very excurvate thumb. The four forward-pointing digits may have been quite
One MTP associate (a geologist and naturalist) has suggested we look
into the possibility that the imprint is that of a marsupial (mammal).
Do I suppose we might be wrong in interpreting the track as being of
mammalian origin. I suppose we could be in error, but at this point
seriously doubt it.
Months ago I found a substantially smaller track (18 mm across) that has
enough resemblance to the recently found one to have seemingly been made by
an animal of close kinship. It, too, shows basically the same type of
'thrown out' (to the side) 'thumb'. ('Thumb' is used cautiously, here.)
Now, some questions for list members who might have appropriate
What is the largest mammal known from the Cretaceous, particularly from
the Early Cretaceous?
Where might I find images of the foot bones (if any are known) of the
larger Cretaceous mammals?
How about the feet of any known Cretaceous marsupials, specifically?
Can anyone provide me with references to papers on possibly related
Any help would be deeply appreciated.
Thanks for 'listening',
"You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of trifles." --
Sherlock Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery