Abstract

A recently discovered dinosaur tracksite from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, contains abundant sauropod tracks that exhibit varying degrees of preservation. Most of these tracks appear as indistinct bulges on the bottoms of sandstone beds, but several are well preserved and show foot-pad and skin impressions. Three track morphotypes are recognized: a sauropod pes print, a Brontopodus-like manus print, and a diplodocid manus print. The Brontopodus-like manus print most likely represents the footprint of a brachiosaur. This morphotype also contains evidence of phalangeal nodes—the first reported for a sauropod manus. The diplodocid manus print is unique because it contains impressions of a substantial ungual on digit I and a heel pad. A partial sauropod track cast also contains an impression of interlocking, polygonal scales. This is only the second known North American sauropod footprint that contains skin impressions.

The spectrum of preservational quality of the tracks and associated trace fossils is used to infer the relative moisture content of the original substrate. Moisture content of the original substrate is estimated to have been moist to borderline saturated. Observations of the tracks at the study areas also are used to establish a list of features that can be used to distinguish deep vertebrate tracks from load casts resulting from gravity-induced soft-sediment deformation.

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