Impact of Sauropod Dinosaurs on Lagoonal Substrates in the Broome Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous), Western Australia
by Tony Thulborn
Existing knowledge of the tracks left by sauropod dinosaurs (loosely ‘brontosaurs’) is essentially two-dimensional, derived mainly from footprints exposed on bedding planes, but examples in the Broome Sandstone (Early Cretaceous) of Western Australia provide a complementary three-dimensional picture showing the extent to which walking sauropods could deform the ground beneath their feet. The patterns of deformation created by sauropods traversing thinly-stratified lagoonal deposits of the Broome Sandstone are unprecedented in their extent and structural complexity. The stacks of transmitted reliefs (underprints or ghost prints) beneath individual footfalls are nested into a hierarchy of deeper and more inclusive basins and troughs which eventually attain the size of minor tectonic features. Ultimately the sauropod track-makers deformed the substrate to such an extent that they remodelled the topography of the landscape they inhabited. Such patterns of substrate deformation are revealed by investigating fragmentary and eroded footprints, not by the conventional search for pristine footprints on intact bedding planes. For that reason it is not known whether similar patterns of substrate deformation might occur at sauropod track-sites elsewhere in the world.
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Syndicated from:PLoS ONE
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