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Estimating theropod body weights from footprints

Ben Creisler

A new online paper:

Ikuko Tanaka (2014)
Estimating body weight and habitat type from extinct avian and
avian-like theropod footprints.
Lethaia (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/let.12098

The relationship between body weight and footprint area of modern
avians was derived and used to estimate the body weights of non-avian
theropods taxa from the Triassic to Cretaceous and extinct avian taxa
from the Cretaceous periods. Geometric information, such as the area
and shape of fossil tracks of extinct avians and non-avian theropods,
was used to estimate body weight and habitat type. The percentage
prediction and standard error of estimates indicated that the body
weight estimated from track area is comparable with body weight
estimated from body fossils bones. Therefore, this approach is useful
when the fossilized track record is richer than the fossilized
skeletal record. The data sets for avians and reptiles were combined
and used to derive a body weight–area relationship that may be
applicable to a broader range of organisms, such as plantigrade
quadrupeds and digitigrade bipeds. Additionally, scatter plots of the
relationship between habitat type and footprint shape of modern avians
were used to infer the habitat type of extinct avians. This finding
suggests that the pes of animals, living in areas characterized by
fluctuating water levels, and under conditions facilitating the
preservation of footprints, were similar in form to those of extant
semi-aquatic avians.