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Sauropod tracks impact on lagoon sandstone in Australia

From: Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Tony Thulborn (2012)
Impact of Sauropod Dinosaurs on Lagoonal Substrates in the Broome
Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous), Western Australia.
PLoS ONE 7(5): e36208.

Existing knowledge of the tracks left by sauropod dinosaurs (loosely
‘brontosaurs’) is essentially two-dimensional, derived mainly from
footprints exposed on bedding planes, but examples in the Broome
Sandstone (Early Cretaceous) of Western Australia provide a
complementary three-dimensional picture showing the extent to which
walking sauropods could deform the ground beneath their feet. The
patterns of deformation created by sauropods traversing
thinly-stratified lagoonal deposits of the Broome Sandstone are
unprecedented in their extent and structural complexity. The stacks of
transmitted reliefs (underprints or ghost prints) beneath individual
footfalls are nested into a hierarchy of deeper and more inclusive
basins and troughs which eventually attain the size of minor tectonic
features. Ultimately the sauropod track-makers deformed the substrate
to such an extent that they remodelled the topography of the landscape
they inhabited. Such patterns of substrate deformation are revealed by
investigating fragmentary and eroded footprints, not by the
conventional search for pristine footprints on intact bedding planes.
For that reason it is not known whether similar patterns of substrate
deformation might occur at sauropod track-sites elsewhere in the