Friday, May 16, 2008

Baby Sauropod Trackways


Julia said...

How adorable! A shame they don't have a scale for that picture, although I'm sure I could work it out for myself.

Will Baird said...

The article in the title link says 4.2m.

Julia said...

Yup, I read that. But the photo doesn't seem to be the whole lot. I suppose at least I have the right order of magnitude with that measurement though!

Will Baird said...

So, query, does the above have adult sauropod tracks that are moving along with the baby ones?

Julia said...

The prints going almost at right angles to the two babies look rather adult-sauropod-like, but there's one that seems to have very pronounced toes.

The print towards the left hand side, under the orange patch is definitely a biped of some persuasion. I don't know enough about the fauna to hazard a guess at what though.

Will Baird said...


I was wondering if the trackway to the upper left was running parallel to the mini'pods. Just curious what social behavior can be inferred from the trackways since that's one of the few snapshots we have of dinosaurian behavior we have.

Julia said...

The parallel one is the three-toed one, by the looks of things. There are loads of different possible explanations:

1. A predator was trailing the babies.
2. It was more of a migratory route and that was a bipedal herbivore accompanying the herd.
3. It was a migratory route and they were two unrelated herds.
4. A predator happened to pass that way several weeks before/after the babies.

The problem is that we don't know when the tracks were deposited. We can usually say "Well set A was deposited before set B because there's some overlap and we can see set B was laid over set A", but that doesn't tell us how much later set B was made. Could have been five minutes, could have been two weeks.

And while a predator going past in the same direction five minutes later is a tragedy, a predator going past in the same direction a fortnight later is not really news.

Does that make sense?

It's certainly fascinating to see a number of organisms moving in the same direction. There are just so many interpretations of this.

Unknown said...

I would like to find a way to draw from this some support for the notion of sauropod coprophagous nurture. I can't see how, yet.