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[dinosaur] Oldest thyreophoran track from Gondwana, from Jurassic of Argentina

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

J.Pazos Pablo, GonzÃlez Estebenet M.Candela, E.Cocca Sergio & DaniaPascua (2019)
The oldest record of a thyreophoran track in Gondwana: Geological implications of subaerial exposure in the lower part of the Lajas Formation at the Covunco section (NeuquÃn Basin), Patagonia, Argentina.
Journal of South American Earth Sciences (advance online publication)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsames.2019.05.014Â


The Lajas Formation is not always deltaic in origin.
The oldest record of thyreophoran tracks in Gondwana are reported.
Cf. Deltapodus is attributed to stegosaurs producers.
The Covunco section is an atypical record of the Lajas Formation.


The outcrops of the Lajas Formation at the Covunco section expose a succession that contrasts with the classical localities for the unit, due to subaerial exposure confirmed by a vertebrate track documented in the basal section of the unit. The stacking pattern, facies distribution, subaerial exposure in the previously interpreted prodelta facies and the documented unconformity in the middle part of the unit are incompatible with the continuous deltaic evolution suggested previously for the studied locality. Regardless of the absence of a precise age for the succession, the regional literature of subsurface data, the paleontological remains and the intra-Callovian unconformity at the top of the unit, suggest a Bathonian (late?) up to Early Callovian age for the unit in the area. It is younger than the classical deltaic deposits extensively studied in outcrops or subsurface to the north-east and south of the Huincul High and confirms the diachronism between the south and north of the high and it sheds light on the late evolution of the unit. The younger age in Covunco section is compatible with the suggested age differences. The sedimentary record in the logged section was divided in three parts: a lower section containing marginal-marine deposits with tidal features like sigmoidal structures and muddy and coaly drapes, marine trace fossils (Asteriacites quinquefolius) and bioclastic deposits that are transitionally overlying the Los Molles Formation and end with fluvial deposits containing the vertebrate track. It is documented at the top of an interval with 3D dunes. The track is tridactyl and assigned to cf. Deltapodus. It constitutes the oldest record in Gondwana of a track attributed to thyreophorans. Isaberrysaura (Neoornitischia/Thyreophora) is the candidate producer, taking into account the stratigraphic and geographical proximity of the underlying Los Molles Formation that contains the skeletal remains. The track has some morphological features that suggest a possible swimming-wading behaviour as was previously proposed for stegosaurs. Overlying the fluvial interval, the middle section is composed of transgressive deposits containing abundant bioclastic conglomerates and channels with trunks. The upper section was deposited after a facies dislocation overlying a previously interpreted unconformity that suggests an abrupt change in the sedimentary record, containing pebbly sandstones intercalated with sandstone beds with Skolithos resembling "pipe rocks". They are replaced upward by fine-grained sandstones with HCS, suggesting open marine conditions over the storm wave base level and a deepening upward trend. Then, the succession becomes sandier and highly bioturbated with abundant Rhizocorallium specimens and some lenticular channels with lateral accretion and abundant symmetrical wave ripple levels developed during a regressive phase.

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