New Early Cretaceous Pterosaur-Bird Track Assemblage from Xinjiang, China: Palaeoethology and Palaeoenvironment
He Qing et al
A pterosaur-bird track assemblage from a sandstone-siltstone-mudstone sequence of the Lower Cretaceous Tugulu Group of Xinjiang comprises the first pterosaur track record from this province and the largest specimen thus far known from China. The pterosaur tracks are assigned to the ichnogenus Pteraichnus based on the triangular overall-shape, the four elongate digit traces and the robust manual digit trace III. Supposed trackmakers were dsungaripterid pterodactyloids whose skeletal remains are well known from the Tugulu Group. The bird tracks that occur on the same surface, are those of typical shorebirds, known from different other localities in southeast Asia. The congruence with Koreanaornis dodsoni described from the same stratigraphic level justifies an assignment to this ichnospecies. This is a further evidence of the co-occurrence of pterosaurs and birds in a typical lakeshore environment with possible seasonal alteration of water supply and aerial exposure indicated by wave ripples, mudcracks and repeated cycles of coarse to fine sediment. Pterosaurs and birds frequented the shoreline and may have fed also on the numerous invertebrates such as the Scoyenia tracemaker that left abundant burrows.