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Re: Oldest avian footprints from Australia

From: Ben Creisler

Note that this paper in now available for free in open access.

Also, a press release from Emory University:


On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 8:20 AM, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> A new online paper:
> Anthony J. Martin, Patricia Vickers-Rich, Thomas H. Rich & Michael Hall (2013)
> Oldest known avian footprints from Australia: Eumeralla Formation
> (Albian), Dinosaur Cove, Victoria.
> Palaeontology (advance online publication)
> DOI: 10.1111/pala.12082
> http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pala.12082/abstract
> Two thin-toed tridactyl tracks in a fluvial sandstone bed of the
> Eumeralla Formation (Albian) at Dinosaur Cove (Victoria, Australia)
> were likely made by avian trackmakers, making these the oldest known
> fossil bird tracks in Australia and the only Early Cretaceous ones
> from Gondwana. These tracks, which co-occur on the same surface with a
> slightly larger nonavian theropod track, are distinguishable by their
> anisodactyl form, hallux impressions and wide digit II–IV divarication
> angles. A lengthy hallux impression and other deformational structures
> associated with one track indicate foot movement consistent with an
> abrupt stop, suggesting its tracemaker landed after either flight or a
> hop. The single nonavian theropod track is similar to other tracks
> described from the Eumeralla Formation at another locality. The avian
> footprints are larger than most Early Cretaceous avian tracks recorded
> worldwide, indicating sizeable enantiornithine or ornithurine species
> in formerly polar environments of Australia. The avian tracks further
> supplement scant body fossil evidence of Early Cretaceous birds in
> southern Australia, which includes a furcula from the Wonthaggi
> Formation. Because of this discovery, Dinosaur Cove, previously known
> for its vertebrate body fossils, is added to a growing list of Early
> Cretaceous vertebrate tracksites in southern Australia.