Behavioral and faunal implications of Early Cretaceous deinonychosaur trackways from China
Deinonychosaurian theropods, the dinosaurian sister group of birds, are characterized by a large raptorial claw borne on a highly modified second digit that was thought to be held in a retracted position during locomotion. In this study, we present new trackway evidence for two coeval deinonychosaurian taxa from the Early Cretaceous of Shandong, China that indicate a hitherto unrecognized body size diversity for this period and continent. These fossil tracks confirm diversity and locomotory patterns implied by phylogeny and biogeography, but not yet manifested in the body fossil record. Multiple parallel and closely spaced trackways generated by the larger track maker provide the best evidence yet discovered for gregarious behavior in deinonychosaurian theropods.