Lida Xing, Nasrollah Abbassi & Martin G. Lockley (2017)
Enigmatic didactyl tracks from the Jurassic of Iran.
Historical Biology (advance online publication)
Didactyl tracks of theropod affinity are reported in this study based on a small sample of footprints in sandstones within the Middle Jurassic (Aalenian-Bajocian) Dansirit Formation in the Baladeh area, Alborz Mountains, Iran. These tracks superficially resemble footprints attributed to small deinonychosaurian dinosaurs known mainly from the Cretaceous of Asia. The relative length of the traces of digits III and IV is atypical for deinonychosaurids, especially dromaeosaurids, but could potentially be attributed to a troodontid-like trackmaker. The possibility of small Middle Jurassic deinonychosaurian trackmakers cannot be ruled out on the basis of the age of these traces. However, reports of pre-Cretaceous tracks of deinonychosaurian or deinoychosaur-like affinity remain rare and problematic. To date previous reports of pre-Cretaceous didactyl tracks pertain to a variable range of footprint morphologies, some of which predate known deinonychosaurian body fossil occurrences.