Early Jurassic sauropod footprints of the Southern Carpathians, Romania: palaeobiological and palaeogeographical significance

Grzegorz Pieńkowski, Mihai E. Popa, Artur Kędzior

Abstract


The dinosaur footprints cf. Parabrontopodus isp. Lockley, Farlow et Meyer, 1994, attributed to sauropods, have been found in Hettangian (earliest Jurassic) alluvial deposits in Anina (Colonia Ceh Quarry, Rei a Basin), belonging to the Getic Nappe in the Southern Carpathians, Western Romania. Heteropodous pes-manus sets and one short, narrow-gauge trackway have been recognized on a large sandstone surface trampled by sauropods. A greater load was carried by the inner digits of the pes, particularly digit I, and the heel pad is deeply imprinted, which points to a sub-plantigrade pes and gravipodal posture, typical for Eusaropoda. A pentadactyl manus imprint suggests that manus digits of early sauropods might have been separate and perhaps more functional when supporting walking on unstable, sticky ground. These tracks, the first find of Jurassic dinosaur footprints in Romania, add an important site to the relatively rare record of earliest Jurassic sauropod footprints. These tracks also confirm that Pangaean islands and peninsulas around the Western Tethys were inhabited by early sauropods. These peninsulas or islands, including a hypothetical "Moesian Island", must have been at least temporarily connected with the mainland. The sizes of the Romanian footprints are similar to the Hettangian Parabrontopodus isp. tracks described from Poland (mainland Pangaea -- Eurasian area) and Italy (Tethyan domain) and do not indicate insular dwarfism.

Keywords


Parabrontopodus; sauropods; Romania; Hettangian; gravipodal posture; palaeobiogeographyn

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