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Elongated theropod tracks from the Cretaceous Apenninic Carbonate Platform of southern Latium (central Italy)

Paolo Citton, Umberto Nicosia, Iacopo Nicolosi, Roberto Carluccio, and Marco Romano

Plain Language Abstract

Tetrapod tracks are significant fossils, which reveal data about anatomy, locomotion, and behaviour in extinct animals. New dinosaur footprints, recently discovered in central Italy, are characterized by elongate impression left by the animal's hind limb. The footprints were probably produced by a medium-sized, non-avian theropod dinosaur performing a complex movement during, which the animal adopted a squatting stance, then rested on the ground and finally resumed locomotion. The new data shed more light on the importance of trace fossil studies for better understanding the biology of extinct animals.

Resumen en Español

Pistas alargadas de terópodos de la plataforma carbonatada del Cretácico de los Apeninos en el sur del Lacio (centro de Italia)

Recientemente se han descubierto nuevas huellas de dinosaurios en el sur del Lacio (Italia). Todas las pistas parecen preservadas de manera ligeramente diferente y se caracterizan por las impresiones de los metatarsianos que son alargadas, registrando el comportamiento locomotor complejo de un terópodo de tamaño mediano. La distribución espacial y las características de las huellas indican que el productor de las mismas adoptó una posición "en cuclillas", como parte de algún tipo de actividad, así como una fase de reposo que es sugerida por pistas sub-paralelas con apoyo de los talones. Estos nuevos datos ponen de relieve una vez más el gran potencial de la evidencia icnológica en el estudio de la biología y comportamiento de los tetrápodos extintos.

Palabras clave: huellas de terópodos; rastros de metatarsianos; postura en cuclillas; Italia; fotogrametría

Traducción: Enrique Peñalver

Résumé en Français

Pistes de théropodes de la plateforme carbonatée crétacée des Apennins dans le sud du Latium (Italie centrale)

Des nouvelles empreintes de pas de dinosaures ont été découvertes récemment dans le sud du Latium (Italie). Les pistes sont toutes préservées de manières légèrement différentes et sont caractérisées par des empreintes allongées des métatarses, témoignant du comportement locomoteur complexe d'un théropode de taille moyenne. La distribution spatiale et les caractéristiques de ces empreintes de pas indiquent que l'animal à l'origine de ces pistes a adopté une position accroupie pendant une partie d'une de ses activités ainsi que pendant une phase de repos suggérée par des pistes subparallèles calcigrades (en appuyant sur les talons). Ces nouvelles données soulignent encore une fois le fort potentiel des données ichnologiques pour l'étude de la biologie et du comportement des tétrapodes disparus.

Mots-clés : empreintes de pas de théropodes ; empreintes de métatarses ; posture accroupie ; Italie ; photogrammétrie

Translator: Antoine Souron

Deutsche Zusammenfassung

Längliche Theropdenspuren aus der kretazischen apenninischen Karbonatplattform des südlichen Latium (Zentralitalien)

Neue Dinosaurierfußspuren wurden kürzlich im südlichen Latium (Italien) entdeckt. Die Spuren scheinen alle leicht verschieden erhalten zu sein und sind durch längliche metatarsale Eindrücke charakterisiert, was das komplexe Bewegungsverhalten eines mittelgroßen Theropoden dokumentiert. Die räumliche Verteilung und die Eigenschaften der Fußspuren weisen darauf hin, dass der Spurenverursacher als Teil einer Aktivität eine „hockende" Position einnahm, genauso wie eine Ruhephase die durch sub-parallele, calcigrade Spuren angezeigt wird. Diese neuen Daten stellen erneut das große Potential ichnologischer Nachweise für die Untersuchung der Biologie und des Verhaltens von ausgestorbenen Tetrapoden heraus.

Schlüsselwörter: Theropodenfußspuren; metatarsale Spuren; hockende Position; Italien; Photogrammetrie

Translator: Eva Gebauer

Arabic

578 arab

Translator: Ashraf M.T. Elewa

 

 

APPENDIX 1. 3D interactive model of the track-bearing block (interactive version available as zipped PDF along with STL file).

appendix

 

 

FIGURE 1. Map of provenance (black footprint) and present location of the track-bearing block (Lido di Porto Canale-Riomartino, grey spot).

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FIGURE 2. Thin sections of the trampled block. 1, Nezzazata isabellae; 2, Cuneolina sliteri; 3, Aligned spathic calcite crystals suggesting emersive condition of the surface during trampling. Scale bar equals 0,5 mm (1 and 2) and 1,5 mm (3).

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FIGURE 3. 1, The track-bearing block; 2, Close-up of the studied footprints; 3, Orthophoto of the trampled block; 4, Interpretative field drawing (scale bar equals 10 cm); F1, F2 and F3 indicate the three theropod tracks discussed in the text; A-D indicate poorly preserved traces, possibly produced by the trackmaker of F1, F2, and F3.

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FIGURE 4. 1, Shaded grey 3D photogrammetric model of the track-bearing block; 2, Shaded coloured 3D photogrammetric model.

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FIGURE 5. Shaded coloured 3D photogrammetric model of footprint F3 and relative sections (S1, S2, S3).

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FIGURE 6. Shaded coloured 3D photogrammetric model of footprint F1 and F2 with relative section (S4) passing through the metatarsal impression and digit III.

figure6

 

 

cittonPaolo Citton. Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, “Sapienza” Università di Roma, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Paolo Citton started working in the Department of Earth Sciences as an undergraduate at Sapienza University of Rome. He completed his PhD at the same institution in 2014. His research is geared on Permian and Mesozoic footprints (synapsids and dinosaurs trackmakers) from Europe and North America, and it also currently implies the analysis and study of the dynamics of track formation on different types of substrate.

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nicosiaUmberto Nicosia. Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, “Sapienza” Università di Roma, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Umberto Nicosia works as professor of Paleontology at the Department of Earth Sciences and he was the Director of the Paleontological Museum of the Sapienza Università di Roma and of the Earth Sciences Department. His scientific activity covers several fields of Mesozoic geology and paleontology. Since 1975 he has been studying Jurassic successions in Italy, Albania, Turkey, England, Germany and France. Its main research field concerns systematics and palaeobiogeography of dinosaurs and of Paleozoic and Mesozoic tetrapod footprints. He is also especially interested in evolution of articulate crinoids. The number of his publications in these topics exceeds 70.

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nicolosiIacopo Nicolosi. Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Via di Vigna Murata 605, 00143 Roma, Italy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Iacopo Nicolosi is currently a research fellow at the Italian National Institute for Gephysics and Volcanology. After an Earth Science degree at Pisa University (Italy), he completed his PhD in Geophysics at Bologna University (Italy) in 2005. His main research is focused on near surface geophysics and crustal modelling and interpretation of magnetic anomaly measures, especially on volcanic and tectonic environments. In the last years, his research has been focused on application of the structure from motion (SfM) technique (the process of estimating three-dimensional structures from two-dimensional image sequences) to the digital reconstruction of Earth surfaces models, rock outcrops, impact structures, archaeological edifices, excavations and artifacts, dinosaur footprints and tracks and other ichnological structures.

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carluccioRoberto Carluccio. Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Via di Vigna Murata 605, 00143 Roma, Italy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Roberto Carluccio, Degree in Physics in 1989. Research experience in various research institutes on different topics: nanotechnologies, solid state electronics and semiconductor spectroscopy techniques. From early 2004 on he is part of INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology) Geomagnetism and Aeronomy group, participating to many geophisical airborne and ground based measurements campaigns. Parallel to this activity is the work on software applications development and scientifical data processing: data decoding systems, acquisition and elaboration of geodata from worldwide netwoks, expert systems and AI techniques for knowledge management, events alerts and discrimination, immersive augmented and virtual reality environment development. In latest years works on UAV systems development, remote sensing techniques and photogrammetric 3D surface reconstruction and measurements from digital photo sequences. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roberto_Carluccio.

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romanoMarco Romano. Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, “Sapienza” Università di Roma, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy; Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua Ave., Norman, Oklahoma 73072, USA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (corresponding author)

Marco Romano received his PhD in Earth Science (vertebrate paleontology) from the Sapienza, University of Rome Italy, working on the phylogeny of basal synapsids (Family Caseidae, Casesauria, Synapsida). From 2012 he is Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Sam Noble Museum (Norman, Oklahoma). He has a very broad research interest in evolutionary biology and vertebrate paleontology, combining several modern and quantitative approaches (osteology, functional morphology, morphometry, ichnology, biomechanics, ethology, myology, "in vivo" restoration and body mass estimate) in order to obtain a better, and as much as possible multidisciplinary and holistic knowledge of some key points in the evolution of terrestrial tetrapods. He also conduct research in philosophy and history of science (especially in the early development of paleontology and geology) analyzing the onset, and evolution in time, of fundamental concepts for Earth Sciences. In this framework is an active member of the "Geoitaliani Project", a section of the Italian Geological Society whose mission is to analyze and disseminate the great contribution of Italian scientists to the early advancement of knowledge in geology and paleontology. 

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