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[dinosaur] Parallel deinonychosaurian trackways from Shandong Province, China

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Lida Xing, Martin G. Lockley, Ying Guo, Hendrik Klein, Junqiang Zhang, Li Zhang, W. Scott Persons IV, Anthony Romilio, Yonggang Tang & Xiaoli Wang (2018)Â
Multiple parallel deinonychosaurian trackways from a diverse dinosaur track assemblage of the Lower Cretaceous Dasheng Group of Shandong Province, China.
Cretaceous Research (advance online publication)
doi:Â https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cretres.2018.04.005

Many newly-discovered dinosaur tracksites have recently been reported from the Lower Cretaceous Dasheng Group of Shandong Province. These are proving valuable as tools for characterizing the fauna in deposits almost devoid of body fossils. Here we report on a new Cretaceous site, the 14th documented in recent years, with multiple track-bearing levels, that adds ~300 tracks to a growing database. At least two morphotypes tentatively labelled as cf. Menglongpus isp., representing a deinonychosaur, and cf. Tatarornipes isp., representing an avian theropod, add to the list of at least seven named ichnogenera attributed to avian and non-avian theropods reported from the Dasheng Group in Shandong Province. Combined with two sauropodomorph and two ornithopod ichnogenera, and unnamed turtle tracks, the genus-level ichnodiversity (~14) is one of the highest reported for any Cretaceous unit either regionally in China or globally.

The tracks identified as cf. Menglongpus isp. occur in four parallel trackways indicating a group of small didactyl bipeds of inferred deinonychosaurian affinity. Despite the lack of body fossils from the Dasheng Group in Shandong Province, a high diversity of deinonychosaur body fossils is known from the contemporary Jehol Biota from northeastern China. This similarity underscores the importance of the Shandong track assemblage as indicators of regional, tetrapod biodiversity during the Cretaceous.