An ichnological and sedimentological study of the El Frontal dinosaur tracksite (Early Cretaceous, Cameros basin, Soria, Spain) highlights the pronounced intra-trackway variation found in track morphologies of four theropod trackways. Photogrammetric 3D digital models revealed various and distinct intra-trackway morphotypes, which reflect changes in footprint parameters such as the pace length, the track length, depth, and height of displacement rims. Sedimentological analyses suggest that the original substrate was non-homogenous due to lateral changes in adjoining microfacies. Multidata analyses indicate that morphological differences in these deep and shallow tracks represent a part of a continuum of track morphologies and geometries produced by a gradient of substrate consistencies across the site. This implies that the large range of track morphologies at this site resulted from similar trackmakers crossing variable facies. The trackways at the El Frontal site present an exemplary case of how track morphology, and consequently potential ichnotaxa, can vary, even when produced by a single trackmaker.
The Las Cerradicas site (Tithonian-Berriasian), Teruel, Spain, preserves at least seventeen dinosaur trackways, some of them formerly attributed to quadrupedal ornithopods, sauropods and theropods. The exposure of new track evidence allows a more detailed interpretation of the controversial tridactyl trackways as well as the modes of locomotion and taxonomic affinities of the trackmakers.
The study of a small sauropod trackway from the Late Cretaceous Fumanya tracksite (southern Pyrenees, Catalonia) and further comparisons with larger trackways from the same locality suggest a causative relationship between gait, gauge, and body proportions of the respective titanosaur trackmakers. This analysis, conducted in the context of scaling predictions and using geometric similarity and dynamic similarity hypotheses, reveals similar Froude numbers and relative stride lengths for both small and large trackmakers from Fumanya. Evidence for geometric similarity in these trackways suggests that titanosaurs of different sizes moved in a dynamically similar way, probably using an amble gait. The wide gauge condition reported in trackways of small and large titanosaurs implies that they possessed similar body (trunk and limbs) proportions despite large differences in body size. These results strengthen the hypothesis that titanosaurs possessed a distinctive suite of anatomical characteristics that are well reflected in their tracks and trackways.
We provide a thorough re-evaluation of the taxonomic diversity, phylogenetic relationships, and historical biogeography of the lambeosaurine hadrosaurids from the European Archipelago. Previously published occurrences of European Lambeosaurinae are reviewed and new specimens collected from upper Maastrichtian strata of the south-central Pyrenees are described. No support is found for the recognition of European saurolophines in the available hadrosaurid materials recovered so far from this area. A new genus and species of basal lambeosaurine, Canardia garonnensis, is described on the basis of cranial and appendicular elements collected from upper Maastrichtian strata of southern France. C. garonnensis differs from all other hadrosaurids, except Aralosaurus tuberiferus, in having maxilla with prominent subrectangular rostrodorsal flange; it differs from A. tuberiferus in a few maxillary and prefrontal characters. Together with A. tuberiferus, C. garonnensis integrates the newly recognized tribe Aralosaurini. Inference of lambeosaurine interrelationships via maximum parsimony analysis indicates that the other three known European lambeosaurines are representatives of two additional subclades (tribes) of these hadrosaurids: Tsintaosaurini (Pararhabdodon isonensis) and Lambeosaurini (the Arenysaurus ardevoli-Blasisaurus canudoi clade). The tribes Aralosaurini, Tsintaosaurini, Lambeosaurini, and Parasaurolophini are formally defined and diagnosed for the first time. Three event-based quantitative methods of ancestral range reconstruction were implemented to infer the historical biogeography of European lambeosaurines: Dispersal-Vicariance Analysis, Bayesian Binary MCMC, and Dispersal-Extinction-Cladogenesis. The results of these analyses, coupled with the absence of pre-Maastrichtian lambeosaurines in the Mesozoic vertebrate fossil record of Europe, favor the hypothesis that aralosaurins and tsintaosaurins were Asian immigrants that reached the Ibero-Armorican island via dispersal events sometime during the Maastrichtian. Less conclusive is the biogeographical history of European lambeosaurins; several scenarios, occurring sometime during the Maastrichtian, are possible, from vicariance leading to the splitting of Asian or North American from European ranges to a dispersal event from North America to the European Archipelago.
A comprehensive review and study of the rich dinosaur track record of the Tremp Formation in the southern Pyrenees of Spain (Southwestern Europe) shows a unique succession of footprint localities prior to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event. A description of some 30 new tracksites and data on sedimentary environments, track occurrence and preservation, ichnology and chronostratigraphy are provided. These new track localities represent various facies types within a diverse set of fluvial environments. The footprint discoveries mostly represent hadrosaurian and, less abundantly, to sauropod dinosaurs. The hadrosaur tracks are significantly smaller in size than, but morphologically similar to, those of North America and Asia and are attributable to the ichnogenus Hadrosauropodus. The track succession, with more than 40 distinct track levels, indicates that hadrosaur footprints in the Ibero-Armorican region occur predominantly in the late Maaastrichtian (at least above the early Maastrichtian-late Maastrichtian boundary). The highest abundance is found noticeably found in the late Maastrichtian, with tracks occurring in the C29r magnetochron, within about the latest 300,000 years of the Cretaceous.
Megaloolithid eggs have long been associated with sauropod dinosaurs. Despite their extensive and worldwide fossil record, interpretations of egg size and shape, clutch morphology, and incubation strategy vary. The Pinyes locality in the Upper Cretaceous Tremp Formation in the southern Pyrenees, Catalonia provides new information for addressing these issues. Nine horizons containing Megaloolithus siruguei clutches are exposed near the village of Coll de Nargó. Tectonic deformation in the study area strongly influenced egg size and shape, which could potentially lead to misinterpretation of reproductive biology if 2D and 3D maps are not corrected for bed dip that results from tectonism.
Capitosaurs were among the largest amphibians that have ever lived. Their members displayed an amphibious lifestyle. We provide new information on functional morphology data, using finite element analysis (FEA) which has palaeoecological implications for the group. Our analyses included 17 taxa using (2D) plate models to test four loading cases (bilateral, unilateral and lateral bitings and skull raising system simulation). Our results demonstrates that, when feeding, capitosaurs concentrated the stress at the circumorbital region of the capitosaur skull and cranial sutures probably played a key role in dissipating and absorbing the stress generated during biting. Basal members (as Wetlugasaurus) were probably less specialized forms, while during Middle- and Late Triassic the group radiated into different ecomorphotypes with closed otic notch forms (as Cyclotosaurus) resulting in the strongest skulls during biting. Previous interpretations discussed a trend from an open to closed otic notch associated with lateral repositioning of the tabular horns, but the analysis of the skull-raising system reveals that taxa exhibiting posteriorly directed tabular horns display similar results during skull raising to those of closed otic notch taxa. Our results suggest that various constraints besides otic notch morphology, such as the elongation of the tabular horns, snout length, skull width and position, and size of the orbits affect the function of the skull. On the light of our results, capitosaur skull showed a trend to reduce the stresses and deformation during biting. Capitosaurs could be considered crocodilian analogues as they were top-level predators in fluvial and brackish Triassic ecosystems.
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