Thursday, September 3, 2009

Giant theropod trackway found in the Upper Jurassic of Morocco.

This isn't just exciting and seriously awesome--it's seriously exciting and slightly more than seriously awesome.

Several researchers have just reported on a series of trackways found in the Upper Jurassic beds of Morocco--though there are several different varieties of tracks found in the area (a huge theropod, a smaller theropod and a sauropod), the tracks of the largest theropod are absolutely massive--the largest measuring 80 cm (from the posterior to anterior margins) by 76 cm (medio-laterally).

Though the exact size of trackways can be distorted by the substrate the trackway was found in (more on that later), in contrast a probable Tyrannosaur footprint found in the Hell Creek Formation (described by Philip Manning amongst several others) measures 72 cm anterior-posteriorly and 76 medio-laterally.

Though Morocco is no stranger to massive theropods (for example, Carcharodontosaurus is estimated at as much as 45 feet in adult length, with a skull several inches over five feet), this trackway's position in time shows that African Gondwanan theropods achieved a massive size fairly early in their evolution (though the exact identity of the track's owner can't be directly confirmed).

Considering the spotty record of African dinosaurs in general, especially in the Jurassic, this is beyond remarkable!

References--

Boutakiout, M., Hadri, M., Nouri, J., Díaz-Martínez, I. & Pérez-Lorente, F. 2009. Rastrilladas de icnitas terópodas gigantes del Jurásico Superior (Sinclinal de Iouaridène, Marruecos). [Gigantic theropod footprints from Upper Jurassic trackways (Iouaridène syncline, Morocco).] Revista Española de Paleontología, 24 (1), 31-46. ISSN 0213-6937.


Manning, Phillip L., Ott, Christopher, Falkingham, Peter L.-- A Probable Tyrannosaurid Track from the Hell Creek Formation (Upper Cretaceous), Montana, United States--PALAIOS 2008 23: 645-647



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