Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2012

Publication Source

Actas de V Jrnadas Internacionales sobre Paleontologia de Dinosaurios y su Entorno, Salas de los Infantes, Burgos

Inclusive pages

41 - 69

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

In 1940 R.T. Bird of the American Museum of Natural History collected segments of a sauropod and a theropod trackway from a site in the bed (Glen Rose Formation; Lower Cretaceous) of the Paluxy River, in what is now Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose, Texas, USA). However, Bird left undocumented thousands of other dinosaur footprints from this and other Paluxy tracksites. In 2008 and 2009 our international team carried out fieldwork to create detailed photomosaics of extant Paluxy tracksites, using GIS technology to combine these with historic maps and photographs. We also made photographs, tracings, LiDAR images, and measurements of individual footprints and trackways. Paluxy dinosaur tracksites occur in more than one tracklayer, but the largest and most spectacular footprints occur in the Main Tracklayer, a 20-30 cm thick, homogeneous dolomudstone that is thickly riddled with vertical invertebrate burrows (Skolithos). There are two dinosaur footprint morphotypes in the Main Tracklayer: spectacular sauropod trackways (Brontopodus ) and the far more numerous tridactyl footprints, most or all of which were made by large theropods (possible ornithopod prints occur in a tracklayer stratigraphically higher than the Main Tracklayer). Tridactyl footprints are highly variable in quality; Paluxy tracksites collectively constitute a natural laboratory for investigating how trackmaker-substrate interactions create extensive extramorphological variability from a single foot morphology. Trackways of bipedal dinosaurs show a “mirror-image” distribution, suggesting movement of animals back and forth along a shoreline. In contrast, most sauropod trackways head in roughly the same direction, suggesting passage of a group of dinosaurs. The trackways collected by R.T. Bird suggest that at least one theropod was following a sauropod.

Disciplines

Earth Sciences | Evolution | Paleobiology | Paleontology | Sedimentology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology