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Bird tracks from Late Cretaceous of Tunisia



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmailcom

A new paper:

Michela Contessi and Federico Fanti (2012)
First record of bird tracks in the Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of Tunisia.
PALAIOS 27(7): 455-464
doi: 10.2110/palo.2011.p11-114r
http://palaios.sepmonline.org/content/27/7/455.abstract



The discovery of fossil bird tracks from the Cenomanian Kerker Member
(Zebbag Formation) in southern Tunisia represents the oldest report of
fossil birds from the Cretaceous of continental Africa. Three small
bird tracks were discovered in a track-bearing surface dominated by
tridactyl dinosaur footprints and are attributed to the ichnogenus
Koreanaornis. This represents the first occurrence of this ichnogenus
in Africa and indicates a worldwide distribution of these
shorebirdlike tracks, previously known only from Asia and North
America. Tracks described in this study are also smaller than any
other fossil bird track known to date, thus they can be included in
the minute size class following modern bird track groups. A comparison
with present-day shorebird tracks indicates strong similarities in
size, morphology, and environment with extant members of the Actitis
genus, commonly known as sandpipers, which inhabit arid central
African tidal flats. The occurrence of bird tracks in the early Late
Cretaceous of Tunisia also brings important new insight into the
paleoecology of an area previously thought to be a site of exclusively
marine deposition.