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Re: Zimbabwe dino paper
There's something tragically poetic about that....
As the paper says (at the end = p. 469):
"Postcript: unique hazards in the survival of ichnotraces [!] in Africa
Recently (August 2003) one of the authors (AAA) revisited the site of the
best preserved sauropod track (Fig 2). Unfortunately, the track and
surrounding sandstone bed was severely damaged (Fig 4). The sandstone bed is
both fractured and broken with some displacement close to the damaged track.
All that remains of the track are three toes with the surrounding mound
eroded. Trampling by a herd of elephants of the sandstone bed is reasonably
proposed (TB) as the most likely cause of the destruction. The adjacent
smoothly rubbed and rounded banks (Fig 4) are strong telltale signs of
elephant behavior. Further support comes from the presence ofwater, in the
normally seasonally dry river beds, suggesting that this was probably a
drinking point at the time of the destruction. Water may also explain the
severity of the damage to the sandstone bed since the bed sits on a
semi-fluid base of mud and water, which is both plastic and pliable. The
ephemeral nature of the mound surrounding the track (most vulnerable to e.g.
physical trampling, natural erosion etc.) is highlighted and points to why
it may be so rarely preserved around the world. The four less well preserved
tracks close by (Fig 1), thought to be possibly of a single sauropod, were
unharmed. The agent of destruction of the dinosaur fossil track described
here must rank as unique in the annals of ichnology and is also ironic given
that the track of the largest extinct land animal should be destroyed by the
largest extant counterpart.
We believe that these tracks, as well as the theropod tracks mentioned
above (Lingham-Soliar et al. 2003), were first exposed after very heavy
floods in northern Zimbabwe about ten years prior to our discovery. Hence
their timely discovery in this volatile region and the present record are
fortuitous. Unfortunately, the remoteness and wildness of the Chewore Area
make protection of dinosaur tracks very difficult, certainly against for
instance herds of elephants and changing river courses.)"