Article Geology

Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 19, pp 2370-2378

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

A new early cretaceous dinosaur track assemblage and the first definite non-avian theropod swim trackway from China

  • LiDa XingAffiliated withSchool of the Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of GeosciencesDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta Email author 
  • , Martin G. LockleyAffiliated withDinosaur Tracks Museum, University of Colorado Denver
  • , JianPing ZhangAffiliated withSchool of the Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences
  • , Andrew R. C. MilnerAffiliated withSt. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm
  • , Hendrik KleinAffiliated withSaurierwelt Paläontologisches Museum
  • , DaQing LiAffiliated withGeological Museum of Gansu
  • , W. Scott PersonsIVAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
  • , JieFang EbiAffiliated withZhaojue County Bureau of Culture, Multimedia, Press & Sport Tourism


The trackway of a swimming theropod (ichnogenus Characichnos) is reported from the Lower Cretaceous Feitianshan Formation of Sichuan, China. These swim tracks help confirm that non-avian theropods were capable of forging moderately deep bodies of water. The trackway occurs on the same surface as a typical walking trackway of a sauropod (ichnogenus Brontopodus). Both occurrences are the first reported from the Cretaceous of Sichuan, and the swim tracks are the first well-preserved example of a Characichnos trackway from China. Additionally, a theropod walking trackway and several ornithopod walking trackways (similar to the ichnogenus Caririchnium) occur in the same horizon. The ornithopod trackways show a parallel orientation, suggesting gregarious behavior of the trackmakers, which may have been iguanodontiforms and/or hadrosauriforms. The co-occurrence of theropod swim tracks and theropod walking tracks suggests a fluctuation of water depth within a distinct time span.


theropod swim tracks sauropod tracks ornithopod tracks Feitianshan Formation Early Cretaceous