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Trackways Produced by Lungfish During Terrestrial Locomotion

Falkingham, PL and Horner, AM (2016) Trackways Produced by Lungfish During Terrestrial Locomotion. Scientific Reports, 6. ISSN 2045-2322

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Some primarily aquatic vertebrates make brief forays onto land, creating traces as they do. A lack of studies on aquatic trackmakers raises the possibility that such traces may be ignored or misidentified in the fossil record. Several terrestrial Actinopterygian and Sarcopterygian species have previously been proposed as possible models for ancestral tetrapod locomotion, despite extant fishes being quite distinct from Devonian fishes, both morphologically and phylogenetically. Although locomotion has been well-studied in some of these taxa, trackway production has not. We recorded terrestrial locomotion of a 35 cm African lungfish (Protopterus annectens; Dipnoi: Sarcopterygii) on compliant sediment. Terrestrial movement in the lungfish is accomplished by planting the head and then pivoting the trunk. Impressions are formed where the head impacts the substrate, while the body and fins produce few traces. The head leaves a series of alternating left-right impressions, where each impact can appear as two separate semi-circular impressions created by the upper and lower jaws, bearing some similarity to fossil traces interpreted as footprints. Further studies of trackways of extant terrestrial fishes are necessary to understand the behavioural repertoire that may be represented in the fossil track record.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2016 11:26
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 12:29
DOI or ID number: 10.1038/srep33734
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4205
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