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