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[dinosaur] Trotting theropod tracks at Las Hoyas fossil site (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

J.J. Moratalla, J. MarugÃn-LobÃn, H. MartÃn-Abad, E. Cuesta, and A.D. Buscalioni (2017)
A new trackway possibly made by a trotting theropod at the Las Hoyas fossil site (Early Cretaceous, Cuenca Province, Spain): Identification, bio-dynamics and palaeoenvironmental implications.
Palaeontologia Electronica 20.3.59A: 1-14.

Dinosaur footprints have recently been identified at the Las Hoyas fossil site, renewing interest in its trace fossils as aids in the interpretation of the area's palaeoenvironment and palaeocommunity. The varied tetrapod print morphologies found seem to have been influenced by the contemporaneous presence of microbial mats. This paper updates the information on tetrapod traces at the site and describes a new dinosaur trackway containing four tridactyl footprints. Although the trackway is not particularly well-preserved, the morphology of the toe marks, the heel surface, and the general morphology of the prints strongly suggest they were produced by a theropod dinosaur of medium size. Further, the ratio between the stride length and the deduced hip height suggest the trackmaker was trotting. Interestingly, the footprints are very similar in size to the pes of Concavenator, a carcharodontosaurid dinosaur known from skeletal material at the same locality. This new ichnological evidence reveals tetrapod prints to be more abundant toward the top of the siteÊs stratigraphic succession. This suggests that, over time, the ecosystem evolved toward more frequent dry periods - the dinosaurs present became able to walk in areas with shallow water and big dinosaurs walked across the ponding zone of Las Hoyas.

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