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Dinosaur track assemblages at Houzuoshan Dinosaur Park, Shandong Province, China

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Rihui Li, Martin G. Lockley, Masaki Matsukawa & Mingwei Liu (2015)[2014]
Important Dinosaur-dominated footprint assemblages from the Lower
Cretaceous Tianjialou Formation at the Houzuoshan Dinosaur Park, Junan
County, Shandong Province, China.
Cretaceous Research 52(A): 83–100
DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2014.08.004

Multiple track-bearing levels in Lower Cretaceous fluvial successions
at the Houzuoshan Dinosaur Park also known as the "Junan Geological
Park of Dinosaurian Relic" in Junan County, Shandong Province, China,
have recently become globally famous for the unique vertebrate
footprints they yield. These include Shandongornipes, the first
zygodactyl bird track reported from the fossil record, Dromaeopodus,
the first reported trackway of a large dromaeosaur, and a new
ichnospecies of Minisauripus. However, these important trackways
represent only a small part of the vertebrate track record at the
Houzuoshan Dinosaur Park site. Herein we describe the entire
ichnofaunas representing 12 discrete mapped assemblages (surfaces) at
20 different stratigraphic levels. In total we have recorded more than
360 footprints comprising at least 130 individual trackways, belonging
to eight named ichnogenera of which five (Grallator sensu lato,
Asianopodus, Minisauripus, Velociraptorichnus and Dromaeopodus) are
attributed to non-avian theropods, one (Ornithopodichnus) to an
ornithopod and two (Shandongornipes and Koreanaornis) to birds (avian
theropods). This remarkable track record allows us to characterize the
ichnofaunas as one of the most distinctive and diverse yet reported
from the entire Mesozoic. The ichnofauna is heavily theropod-dominated
representing almost ~90% of the total trackways, with Asianopodus the
most ubiquitous track type occurring at 18 of the 20 (or 90%) of the
observed levels and representing ~74% of all trackways. None of the
other track types occur at more than 5 levels or represent more than
8.3% of the trackways. Such theropod-domination is consistent with
patterns noted for other Lower Cretaceous ichnofaunas from China.