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New papers on dinosaur tracks in Oryctos

The last issue of the French journal Oryctos contains ten papers on dinosaur footprints: http://www.dinosauria.org/oryctos.php

The issue 8 (2008) of Oryctos contains the proceedings of the "International Symposium on dinosaurs and other vertebrates Palaeoichnology" held at Fumanya (Barcelona province, Spain), October 4-8th, 2005: http://usuarios.lycos.es/fumanyasymp05/

(the Abstract Book of the symposium is free at: http://www.icp.cat/docs/art_fumanya_symposium.pdf )

The titles and abstracts of the proceedings are in the web of the journal: http://www.dinosauria.org/oryctos-volume.php?volume=9

Those of Gierlinski & Sabath (2008), Gierlinski et al. (2008) and Dalla Vecchia (2008) were mentioned by Jerry D. Harris in October and November:
but the rest have not been mentioned in this list.


Marco Avanzini & Paolo Mietto. Lower and Middle Triassic footprint-based Biochronology in the Italian Southern Alps. Oryctos 8, 3-13.

The Early and Middle Triassic ichnoassociations of the Italian Southern Alps appear particularly important due to their excellent state of preservation and the ample vertical distribution of the dated trampled levels. On the basis of the ranges of single ichnotaxa, it is possible to define a series of different associations, characterized by different evolutionary stages. They correspond to informal evolutionary units that can be estabilished as faunal units (FUs). The Scythian is characterized by the presence of Rhynchosauroides schochardti that disappears in the Anisian. In the Anisian, characterized by the appearance of Rhynchosauroides tirolicus) a progressive increase in the complexity of the ichnoassociations from the Bithynian to the Illyrian is documented. In the Bithynian - Early Pelsonian interval the faunal assemblage is dominated by Parasynaptichnium gracilis and Synaptichnium pseudosuchoides. The Early Pelsonian - Early Illyrian interval is characterized by the dominance of Isochirotherium delicatum and Brachychirotherium circaparvum.

Martin A. Whyte & Mike Romano. Dinosaur footprints associated with an ephemeral pool in the Middle Jurassic of Yorkshire, UK. Oryctos 8, 15-27.

A thin mudstone intercalation within channel sandstones of the Saltwick Formation (Middle Jurassic) of the Cleveland area of Yorkshire shows a succession of invertebrate traces followed by dinosaur tracks and then shrinkage cracks. The tridactyl prints, all made by the same type of small bipedal dinosaur, show an interesting range of morphologies, including imprints of the metatarsal area, consistent with their having been made in soft cohesive mud of varying moisture content. Some of the tracks indicate that the foot was moved backwards during withdrawal. Such foot movement can also be observed in modern emu locomotion. The pattern of shrinkage cracks is partly controlled by the prints. This sequence is comparable to the sequence of traces and structures which have been observed in a recent ephemeral pool and is interpreted as having formed in a similar environment. Uniquely for the Yorkshire area, the prints and cracks are infilled by small, now sideritised, pellets possibly of invertebrate faecal origin.

Gerard D. Gierlinski & Karol Sabath. Stegosaurian footprints from the Morrison Formation of Utah and their implications for interpreting other ornithischian tracks. Oryctos 8, 29-46.

The supposed stegosaurian track Deltapodus Whyte & Romano, 1994 (Middle Jurassic of England) is sauropod-like, elongate and plantigrade, but many blunt-toed, digitigrade, large ornithopod-like footprints (including pedal print cast associated with the manus of Stegopodus Lockley & Hunt, 1998) from the Upper Jurassic of Utah, better fit the stegosaurian foot pattern. The Morrison Formation of Utah yielded other tracks fitting the dryomorph (camptosaur) foot pattern (Dinehichnus Lockley et al., 1998) much better than Stegopodus. If the Stegopodus pedal specimen (we propose to shift the emphasis from the manus to the pes in the revised diagnosis of this ichnotaxon) and similar ichnites are proper stegosaur footprints, Deltapodus must have been left by another thyreophoran trackmaker. Other Deltapodus-like (possibly ankylosaurian) tracks include Navahopus Baird,1980 and Apulosauripus Nicosia et al., 1999. Heel-dominated, short-toed forms within the Navahopus-Deltapodus-Apulosauripus plexus differ from the gracile, relatively long-toed Tetrapodosaurus Sternberg, 1932, traditionally regarded as an ankylosaurian track. Thus, the original interpretation of the latter as a ceratopsian track might be correct, supporting early (Aptian) appearance of ceratopsians in North America. Isolated pedal ichnites from the Morrison Formation (with a single tentatively associated manus print, and another one from Poland) and the only known trackways with similar footprints (Upper Jurassic of Asturias, Spain) imply bipedal gait of their trackmakers. Thus, problems with stegosaur tracks possibly stem from the expectation of their quadrupedality. Massive but short stegosaur forelimbs suggest primarily bipedal locomotion, and quadrupedal defense posture.

Octávio Mateus & Jesper Milàn. Ichnological evidence for giant ornithopod dinosaurs in the Upper Jurassic Lourinhã Formation, Portugal. Oryctos 8, 47-52.

The Upper Jurassic Lourinhã Formation (Lusitanian Basin, Portugal) contains a diverse dinosaur fauna comprising theropods, sauropods, stegosaurs, ankylosaurs and several genera of ornithopods. The sedimentology in the area favours preservation of tracksways, and tracks from most of the dinosaurs are also represented by skeletal remains. During fieldwork in the summer of 2003 a new, large, tridactyl track was found at the beach of Vale Frades, approximately 6 km north of Lourinhã (central west Portugal). The track was found together with a stegosaur track on a clay bed exposed within the intertidal zone. Due to the immediate danger of erosion, the track was collected and is now on display at Museu da Lourinhã. The track is 70 cm long and 69 cm wide, the toes are short and broad, with indications of short blunt claws, and there is a high angle of divarication between the outer digits. The shape and dimensions of the track identifies it as deriving from an ornithopod dinosaur with an estimated hip height around three metres. Although very large ornithopods are known from the Cretaceous, the largest known Jurassic ornithopod is Camptosaurus from North America, and the largest known from Portugal is the camptosaurid Draconyx loureiroi. Neither of these reached the body size suggested by the new track. So far the track described herein is the only evidence for a Jurassic ornithopod of that size.

Martin Lockley, José Carlos Garcia-Ramos, Laura Pinuela & Marco Avanzini. A review of vertebrate track assemblages from the Late Jurassic of Asturias, Spain with comparative notes on coeval ichnofaunas from the western USA: implications for faunal diversity in siliciclastic facies assemblages. Oryctos 8, 53-70.

Upper Jurassic tetrapod tracks from Asturias (Spain) are similar to those from the famous Morrison Formation of the Rocky Mountain Region (western USA). Both regions provide evidence of diverse faunas comprising dinosaurs (theropods, sauropods and ornithischians), pterosaurs, crocodilians and turtles which indicate faunas consistent with known skeletal remains. Almost all these groups are represented by at least two, if not as many as four or more, distinctive track morphotypes, giving a cumulative ichno-diversity of at least 12- 15 ichnotaxa. At least half of these are diagnostic to the ichnogenus level. Thus, the ichnofaunas provide a useful, generalized census of the Upper Jurassic faunas in these regions. Although there are some ambiguities about the probable identities of the makers of some tridactyl tracks, both assemblages are remarkably similar in overall composition. Most differences between the ichnofaunas reflect subtle distinctions that reflect differences in size and diversity within the major track groups. Some differences can also be attributed to preservational factors. The Asturian assemblages is dominated by isolated specimens from cliff outcrops in a small area, whereas the Morrison ichnofaunas is based on in situ sites from a very large area of more than 500,000 km2.

Marco Avanzini, Laura Pinuela & José Carlos Garcia-Ramos. Theropod Palaeopathology inferred from a Late Jurassic trackway, Asturias (N. Spain). Oryctos 8, 71-75.

Although references to traumas and illness in dinosaur bones are very frequent, there are few reports about pathologies of these reptiles through studies of isolated footprints and trackways, and the majority of these refer to limping dinosaurs. The example presented here refers to a short theropod trackway of four consecutive footprints, preserved as convex epireliefs. Anomalous arrangement of the fourth digit in the right pedal prints suggests a pathology, although we can not determine if it is malformation or trauma due to fracture. The similarity in the pace length and angle suggests that if it is a fracture, this was produced a long time before as there is no evidence of limping in the reptile gait.

Vanda Faria dos Santos, Carlos Marques da Silva & Luís Azevedo Rodrigues. Dinosaur track sites from Portugal: Scientific and cultural significance. Oryctos 8, 77-88.

Dinosaur tracks in Portugal are known from Bajocian-Bathonian (Jurassic) through middle Cenomanian (Cretaceous) rocks. The Portuguese track record includes two outstanding Middle Jurassic track sites both in Central W Portugal: the Vale de Meios track site, showing dozens of parallel theropod trackways, and the Galinha site, where several long sauropod trackways can be seen. There are two other major areas with important dinosaur track sites: SW Algarve (S Portugal), Lower Cretaceous, and the Sesimbra region (Central W Portugal), Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous. Huge track sites such as the Vale de Meios and Galinha sites can not be excavated and removed into museums; therefore, they must be preserved in situ, to be studied and visited in their original geological context. Track sites such as these are important not only for their scientific, ichnological, significance; they are also valuable for science popularization and to stimulate public interest for the preservation of the geological/palaeontological heritage. In Portugal, in 1996 and 1997, five dinosaur track sites have been declared natural monuments. In such sites it is possible to teach and show Palaeontology, as well as other aspects of Earth sciences in their original geological context, to children from different school levels and to a broad public with different scientific backgrounds. Educational programmes for school children and the general public are paramount in order to elucidate them about dinosaurs and their tracks, but also to improve their attitude towards the scientific and cultural value of this palaeontological ichnoheritage. Educational activities are essential to the success of geoconservation. They boost public awareness, which, in turn, is fundamental for the protection and valorisation of the geological and palaeontological heritage. When local communities are conscious of the scientific and cultural value of the natural heritage in their home region they become proud of it and this fact dramatically increases the odds of its effective protection. Nevertheless, up until now the Galinha track site is the only Portuguese track site prepared to receive visitors and to offer them palaeontological educational programmes.

Fabio M. Dalla Vecchia. The impact of dinosaur palaeoichnology in palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographic reconstructions: the case of the Periadriatic carbonate platforms. Oryctos 8, 89-106.

Knowledge of dinosaur footprints has greatly changed how scientists reconstruct the palaeoenvironment and palaeogeography of the Mesozoic carbonate platforms of the Periadriatic area (Italy, Slovenia and Croatia). Geologists considered those carbonate platforms as shallow marine, intraoceanic banks (i.e., surrounded by the Tethys Ocean) during Cretaceous times. The discovery in the last 20 years of dinosaur fossils, mainly footprints, in many places and at different stratigraphic levels has demonstrated that the ?shallow seas? were repeatedly or continuously populated by large terrestrial animals. Thus, the reconstructions of those carbonate platforms as a sort of Mesozoic ?Bahamas Banks? was incorrect. The new record allows also testing for congruence with palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographic reconstructions. Areas where dinosaur fossils have been found are always considered as ?shallow marine? in those reconstructions, very far away from continental areas during the Late Triassic and earliest Jurassic and surrounded by deep marine basins during Late Jurassic and Cretaceous times. The results of this research are a first step toward the understanding of those dinosaurs living ?at the border?, but are obviously preliminary and subject to confirmation or confutation with increased fossil sampling. The ichnological sample and the palaeogeographic reconstructions can also stimulate some reflections about the biology of the extinct dinosaurian clades and give some suggestions for the development of future research.

Gerard D. Gierlinski, Izabela Ploch, Eugenia Gawor-Biedowa & Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki. The first evidence of dinosaur tracks in the Upper Cretaceous of Poland. Oryctos 8, 107-113.

A new theropod and ornithischian dinosaur track (Irenesauripus sp. and cf. Hadrosauropodus sp.) are reported from the Polish Cretaceous carbonate facies. The reported finds came from the Maastrichtian limestones, informal unit called Gaizes, exposed in the vicinity of the Roztocze National Park and represents isolated theropod pedal print and manuspes set left by hadrosaurid dinosaur. These are the first dinosaur track record in the Cretaceous of Poland.

Bernat Vila, Oriol Oms, Josep Marmi & Àngel Galobart. Tracking Fumanya Footprints (Maastrichtian, Pyrenees): historical and ichnological overview. Oryctos 8, 115-130.

The Fumanya tracksites (SE Pyrenees, NE Iberian Peninsula) are among the most important Cretaceous dinosaur track localities in the world. These sites have remained largely unstudied until 15 years after their discovery. They provide an exceptional record of sauropod (titanosaur) ichnology with nearly 3,000 footprints arranged in more than 50 trackways. The study of Fumanya sites is providing further refinements on titanosaur track morphology, stance, gauge and locomotion. Outcrop deterioration has deleted significant ichnological information that can be integrated in the present day dataset by means of the study of ancient pictures and measurements. Weathering and conservation studies provide conservation tools for the outcrop. The Fumanya site is integrated in a large Maastrichtian succession with plenty of other dinosaur remains (ichnites, bones and clutches) and other palaeoenvironmental indicators (plants, invertebrates, etc.). This reinforces the Vallcebre section as a key point to understand the diversity of the last European dinosaurs during the Maastrichtian and how their extinction took place.

Jose Ignacio Ruiz-Omeñaca
Museo del Jurásico de Asturias (MUJA)
E-33328 Colunga, Spain