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How To Look At Dinosaur Tracks




http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430102016.htm

A new study appearing in the May issue of The Journal of Geology provides fascinating insight into the factors geologists must account for when examining dinosaur tracks. The authors studied a range of larger tracks from the family of dinosaurs that includes the T. Rex and the tridactyl, and provide a guide for interpreting the effects of many different types of erosion on these invaluable impressions.

"Well-preserved vertebrate tracks in the rock record can be an invaluable source of information about foot morphology, soft tissue distribution, and skin texture," write Jesper Miln (Geological Institute, University of Copenhagen) and David B. Loope (Department of Geosciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln). "However, in most instances, the tracks are less than perfectly preserved, and sometimes they can be barely recognizable as tracks at all."

With this in mind, Miln and Loope sought to describe and categorize different levels of preservation.
...
For example, estimating foot length from tracks can be inaccurate without these considerations -- the more erosion that has occurred, the larger the apparent dimensions of the track. Applications of this apparently larger foot size derived from an undertrack may lead to calculations of higher estimated hip length, and, as the authors point out, may also lead to slower speed estimates.


Reference: Jesper Miln and David B. Loope, "Preservation and Erosion of Theropod Tracks in Eolian Deposits: Examples from the Middle Jurassic Entrada Sandstone, Utah, U.S.A." The Journal of Geology: 115, p. 375-386.