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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.)"