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Dinosaur tracks from Lower Cretaceous of Sichuan Province, China

Ben Creisler

A new online paper:

Lida Xing, Martin G. Lockley, Jianping Zhang, Hendrik Klein, W. Scott
Persons IV & Hui Dai (2014)
Diverse sauropod-, theropod-, and ornithopod-track assemblages and a
new ichnotaxon Siamopodus xui ichnosp. nov. from the Feitianshan
Formation, Lower Cretaceous of Sichuan Province, southwest China.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.08.011

More than 1000 tracks have been observed in the Zhaojue tracksites.
Diverse sauropod-, theropod-, and ornithopod-track assemblages.
One theropod trackway attributed to the new ichnospecies Siamopodus xui.
Titanosaurian sauropods were abundant from the Cretaceous Sichuan Basin.

Copper mining activities in a huge quarry in the fluvial-lacustrine
Lower Cretaceous Feitianshan Formation near Zhaojue, Sichuan Province
have temporarily exposed large track-bearing surfaces that require
rapid documentation before they are subject to erosion or damage from
collapseor destruction by mining. Due to the urgent need to document
these sites several preliminary studies of representative material
have been completed, and more than 1000 tracks have been observed.
Here we present maps of two large surfaces, with a combined area of ~
1000 m2, representing the same stratigraphic level, and yielding
multiple trackways of measurable quality, including at least 8
theropod, 7 sauropod, and 22 ornithopod trackways. Additional
trackmakers of the two latter groups are also well-represented by
natural casts derived from an overlying unit disturbed by quarrying.
The sauropod tracks are assigned to the ubiquitous ichnogenus
Brontopodus. The ornithopod tracks belong to the ichnogenera
Caririchnium, attributed to quadrupeds or facultative bipeds, and
Ornithopodichnus, corresponding to smaller bipeds. Based on size and
morphology the theropod trackways appear to represent diverse
morphotypes, including one attributed to the new ichnospecies
Siamopodus xui. The Feitianshan Formation ichnofauna, which also
includes pterosaur tracks from other nearby surfaces, is moderately
diverse and indicates an abundant presence of archosaurs in the region
during the Early Cretaceous.