Zaragoza, Feb 1 (EFE).- A new investigation by the Dinópolis Foundation of Teruel (Aragón) on fossils shows the quadrupedal locomotion of large ornithopod dinosaurs from the study and detailed classification of new footprints and bones from various sites in the Province.
All the bones described in the research, carried out by paleontologists from the Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis Foundation and published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, were found in the municipalities of El Castellar and Miravete de la Sierra, in rocks belonging to the called El Castellar Sandstone and Limestone Formation, whose original sediments were deposited some 130-127 million years ago, during the Hauterivian-Barremian (Lower Cretaceous), as reported by the Department of Education of the Government of Aragon.
Several large footprints also come from this formation, about 44 centimeters long, found in Mora de Rubielos by scientists, who have also studied other larger footprints, measuring 52 centimeters, from El Castellar, but from the Areniscas Formation. de Camarillas, stratigraphically located above the El Castellar Formation and, therefore, somewhat more modern in its geological age.
According to Josué García Cobeña, a paleontologist at the Dinópolis Foundation and co-author of the study, the discovery of these new footprints, entirely fossilized in the form of fillers and located in Mora de Rubielos in rocks from the El Castellar Formation, “is of great interest, since until now very few dinosaur footprints have been described in said geological unit».
In the same way, adds the paleontologist, the footprints that come from the Camarillas Formation of El Castellar are also very remarkable, especially two unusual foot and hand associated “with a singular degree of anatomical detail.”
These footprints, also fossilized as fillers and that even exhibit the morphology of the outer and central fingers in the case of the hand, reflect that their large ornithopod producer, about 10 meters long, had quadrupedal locomotion.
In addition, thanks to this preservation, scientists have inferred the movement, the dynamics of the dinosaur’s footprint on an originally soft substrate.
According to Alberto Cobos, managing director of the Dinópolis Foundation and co-author of the work, the study of these footprints, assigned to the Caririchnium ichnogenus, “determines that they were produced by large styracosternal ornithopods.”
The fossils show, Cobos has pointed out, a morphological similarity between the large footprints (tridactyls, wider than long, robust toes without nail marks and rounded heels, among other characteristics) with the feet of some ornithopods, such as, for example, the iguanodon.
In fact, he explained, the Iguanodon galvensis comes from the same geological age, which allows us to infer the large specimens of this species, defined in 2015 by paleontologists from the Dinópolis Foundation, as “potential producers”.
The article develops a detailed description of the fossil bones found and concludes that the large ornithopods, some of them related to Iguanodon galvensis, shared the habitat with other groups of more basal ornithopods, spinosaurid theropod dinosaurs, large sauropods and few ankylosaurs, among others.
In addition to García Cobeña y Cobos, Francisco Javier Verdú, from the Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis Foundation, has participated in the research.