Sam M. Slater, Charles H. Wellman, Michael Romano & Vivi Vajda (2017)
Dinosaur-plant interactions within a Middle Jurassic ecosystemâpalynology of the Burniston Bay dinosaur footprint locality, Yorkshire, UK.
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments (advance online publication)
Dinosaur footprints are abundant in the Middle Jurassic Ravenscar Group of North Yorkshire, UK. Footprints are particularly common within the Bathonian Long Nab Member of the Scalby Formation and more so within the so-called âBurniston footprint bedâ at Burniston Bay. The Yorkshire Jurassic is also famous for its exceptional plant macrofossil and spore-pollen assemblages. Here we investigate the spore-pollen record from the dinosaur footprint-bearing successions in order to reconstruct the vegetation and assess possible dinosaur-plant interactions. We also compare the spore-pollen assemblages with the macroflora of the Scalby Ness Plant Bed, which occurs within the same geological member as the Burniston succession. The spore-pollen assemblages are dominated by Deltoidospora spp., the majority of which were probably produced by Coniopteris. Lycophyte spores (including megaspores) are common in the Yorkshire Jurassic, but lycophyte parent plants are extremely poorly represented in the macroflora. Seed ferns, represented by Alisporites spp., are moderately abundant. Conifer pollen assemblages are dominated by Araucariacites australis (probably produced by Brachyphyllum mamillare), Perinopollenites elatoides and Classopollis spp., with additional bisaccate pollen taxa. Abundant Ginkgo huttonii in the macroflora suggests that much of the monosulcate pollen was produced by ginkgoes. The diverse vegetation of the Cleveland Basin presumably represented an attractive food source for herbivorous dinosaurs. The dinosaurs probably gathered at the flood plains for fresh-water and also used the non-vegetated plains and coastline as pathways. Although assigning specific makers to footprints is difficult, it is clear that a range of theropod, ornithopod and sauropod dinosaurs inhabited the area.