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Late Triassic dinosaur tracks from Penarth, south Wales

Falkingham, PL, Maidment, SCR, Lallensack, JN, Martin, JE, Suan, G, Cherns, L, Howells, C and Barrett, PM (2021) Late Triassic dinosaur tracks from Penarth, south Wales. Geological Magazine. ISSN 0016-7568

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Evidence of Late Triassic large tetrapods from the UK is rare. Here, we describe a track-bearing surface located on the shoreline near Penarth, south Wales, United Kingdom. The total exposed surface is c. 50 m long and c. 2 m wide, and is split into northern and southern sections by a small fault. We interpret these impressions as tracks, rather than abiogenic sedimentary structures, because of the possession of marked displacement rims and their relationship to each other with regularly spaced impressions forming putative trackways. The impressions are large (up to c. 50 cm in length), but poorly preserved, and retain little information about track-maker anatomy. We discuss alternative, plausible, abiotic mechanisms that might have been responsible for the formation of these features, but reject them in favour of these impressions being tetrapod tracks. We propose that the site is an additional occurrence of the ichnotaxon Eosauropus, representing a sauropodomorph trackmaker, thereby adding a useful new datum to their sparse Late Triassic record in the UK. We also used historical photogrammetry to digitally map the extent of site erosion during 2009–2020. More than 1 m of the surface exposure has been lost over this 11-year period, and the few tracks present in both models show significant smoothing, breakage and loss of detail. These tracks are an important datapoint for Late Triassic palaeontology in the UK, even if they cannot be confidently assigned to a specific trackmaker. The documented loss of the bedding surface highlights the transient and vulnerable nature of our fossil resources, particularly in coastal settings, and the need to gather data as quickly and effectively as possible.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0403 Geology, 0603 Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QE Geology > QE701 Paleontology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2022 11:26
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2022 11:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1017/s0016756821001308
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15960
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