Paläontologische Zeitschrift

, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 807–814 | Cite as

A vertebrate trackway from the Twyfelfontein Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Damaraland, Namibia

  • Simone D’Orazi Porchetti
  • Alexander Wagensommer
Research Paper


A trackway of 22 footprints is the first definite evidence of vertebrate life from the Main Aeolian Unit of the Twyfelfontein Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Kunene region, Northwestern Namibia. Footprints were left on the lee slope of an ancient dune in a hyper-arid, erg-dominated paleo environment. The new material is reminiscent of the Mesozoic ichnotaxon Brasilichnium, which is exclusively found on the slip face of sand dunes, from both South and North America. The Twyfelfontein Formation is considered a lateral equivalent of the Brazilian Botucatu Formation in which Brasilichnium is a common trace fossil, but correlation was formerly based exclusively on sedimentologic and lithostratigraphic homologies. Aside from being the first vertebrate evidence from the Cretaceous of Namibia, and possibly the first African Brasilichnium, this new find enforces the correlation between the Botucatu and the Twyfelfontein formations.


Lower Cretaceous Twyfelfontein Formation Sand dunes Vertebrate trackway Brasilichnium 


Eine aus 22 aufeinanderfolgenden Trittsiegeln bestehende Fährte ist der erste Nachweis eines Wirbeltiers aus der Main Aeolian Unit der Twyfelfontein–Formation (Unterkreide), Region Kunene, nördwestliches Namibia. Die Fährte entstand auf der Leeseite einer Düne in einem hyperariden, Erg–artigen Lebensraum. Sie erinnert an das mesozoische Ichnotaxon Brasilichnium, das bisher ausschließlich von fossilen Sanddünen in Süd–und Nordamerika beschrieben wurde. Die Twyfelfontein–Formation wird als afrikanisches Gegenstück zur brasilianischen Botucatu–Formation angesehen, obgleich die Korrelierung bislang nur auf sedimentologischen und lithostratigraphischen Homologien basierte. Dieser neue Fund ist nicht nur der erste Nachweis eines Wirbeltiers aus der Kreide Namibias und möglicherweise der erste Beleg von Brasilichnium auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent, sondern er untermauert auch die Korrelierung zwischen der Botucatu–und der Twyfelfontein–Formation.


Unterkreide Twyfelfontein–Formation Sanddünen Wirbeltierfährte Brasilichnium 



Dr. Nigel P. Mountney (University of Leeds) is greatly acknowledged for sharing with us information on the Twyfelfontein Formation. We would like to express our gratitude to Helke G. Mocke (Geological Survey of Namibia) for her constant help and assistance. Donovan Wagner is acknowledged for supplying logistic support during fieldworks. We are indebted to Prof. Reinaldo J. Bertini (UNESP Rio Claro) for allowing us to access the collection of Botucatu slabs under his care. Spencer G. Lucas (New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Albuquerque) and David J. Loope (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) are kindly acknowledged for improving the final quality of the manuscript with their comments and suggestions. D’Orazi Porchetti’s research is supported by a Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) post–doctoral grant (Process Number 2013/01930–1).


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Copyright information

© Paläontologische Gesellschaft 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone D’Orazi Porchetti
    • 1
  • Alexander Wagensommer
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão PretoUniversidade de São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.San Giovanni RotondoItaly

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