A Late Jurassic diverse ichnocoenosis from the siliciclastic Iouaridène Formation (Central High Atlas, Morocco)

Matteo Belvedere, Paolo Mietto, Shinobu Ishigaki

Abstract


The Late Jurassic Iouaridène tracksite has been studied for decades and is well-known for the reference trackway of Breviparopus taghbaloutensis. These siliciclastic flood-plain deposits bear probably more than 1500 tracks, and at least 21 trampled levels: they yield tracks of medium to very large sauropods, possible stegosaurs and theropods. The first accurate description of the footprint association made by biped trackmakers is proposed herein. More than six hundred footprints and more than a hundred trackways has been mapped and analysed; this led to the definition of four tridactyl and two tetradactyl morphotypes, mainly produced by small to very large theropods, while probable small ornithopod tracks are also present. The bipedal footprint association is dominated by medium-large theropods, which are also the most abundant type. The taxonomical attribution of the morphotypes is made difficult by the poor preservation of many specimens. Furthermore, for the most abundant theropod tracks, those with "megalosaurian" affinity, there is also a complex ichnotaxonomical situation, that makes the attributions yet more challenging; however, it was possible to recognize the great affinity of the tridactyl specimens with the Megalosauripus tracks from the Iberian Peninsula and North America. Three-dimensional models were generated from the moulds of the best-preserved specimens to render a more detailed description and for easier access to the specimens.

Keywords


Late Jurassic; Morocco; Iouaridène Formation; dinosaur footprints; theropods; 3D modelling

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