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[dinosaur] Early Jurassic scampering, trotting, walking bipedal dinosaur tracks from Lesotho

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Miengah Abrahams, Emese M. Bordy, Lara Sciscio & Fabien Knoll (2017)
Scampering, trotting, walking tridactyl bipedal dinosaurs in southern Africa: ichnological account of a Lower Jurassic palaeosurface (upper Elliot Formation, Roma Valley) in Lesotho.
Historical Biology (advance online publication)
doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08912963.2016.1267164  

In Gondwana, Early Jurassic dinosaur track sites are especially concentrated in Lesotho. Despite intensive investigations during the third quarter of the twentieth century, a limited number of vertebrate track sites of this country have been studied with rigorous ichnological and sedimentological methodology. Here, we present a previously mentioned, but undescribed track site in the upper Elliot Formation (Hettangian?) of Lesotho, located near Roma (at Lephoto dam). Two tridactyl ichnite morphologies, made by bipedal vertebrate trackmakers are recognised. The first can be identified as Grallator-like, an ichnotaxon common in the Lower Jurassic of both Laurasia and Gondwana that can be attributed to small and medium-size theropod dinosaurs. In contrast, the second ichnite type is reminiscent of Trisauropodiscus, which is a rare ichnotaxon that resembles tracks of small birds and is known with certainty in Lesotho from only a few places. We suggest that at our upper Elliot Formation study site, Trisauropodiscus was potentially made by a heterodontosaurid ornithischian dinosaur. Our work provides further evidence that the ichnological record of the Stormberg Group of southern Africa is in a unique position to shed light not only on Early Jurassic biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironments but also on the biodiversity and palaeobiology of early dinosaurs.