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Sauropod trackways dominated by manus or pes prints
From: Ben Creisler
A new paper:
P. L. Falkingham, K. T. Bates and P. D. Mannion (2012)
Temporal and palaeoenvironmental distribution of manus- and
pes-dominated sauropod trackways.
Journal of the Geological Society 169(4): 365-370
doi: 10.1144/0016-76492011-019 169
Fossil tracks are a source of information about extinct animals that
can supplement the osteological record, yet they are often overlooked
in macroevolutionary studies. The substrates in which tracks are
preserved are indicative of palaeoenvironment and habitat, and track
morphology can be linked to the motion and loading of the limb.
Sauropod dinosaurs represent the largest terrestrial animals ever to
have existed, and the evolution of their body plan had direct
consequences for their locomotion and subsequent morphology of their
tracks. Here we show that the relative proportions of manus- and
pes-dominated sauropod trackways appears to remain constant in the
Jurassic and Cretaceous despite an apparent evolutionary anterior
shift of centre of mass seen in the body fossil record. However, in
Cretaceous rocks, manus-dominated tracks are most commonly recorded in
cohesive substrates (e.g. mudstones), whereas pes-dominated tracks
tend to be restricted to non-cohesive substrates (e.g. sandstones).
This bias is not present in the Jurassic, and therefore may be the
result of niche partitioning among sauropods associated with the
Cretaceous diversification of the anatomically and environmentally
specialized titanosaurs. In this respect, the ichnological record
appears to provide complementary evidence to the osteological record
and suggests a causative link between locomotion, ecology, and
macroevolution in sauropod dinosaurs.