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New vertebrate trackways from the autochthonous cover of the Aiguilles Rouges Massif and reevaluation of the dinosaur record in the Valais, SW Switzerland


A new tracksite located in the Mesozoic autochthonous series covering the Aiguilles Rouges Massif, circa 7 km to the NNE of the tracksite of the Vieux Emosson, is briefly described. The trampled bed is most likely coeval with the outcrop in the Vieux Emosson area. Two poorly preserved quadrupedal trackways, almost parallel, measure 9.8 and 8 m in length, respectively. They are referred to the Chirotheriidae ABEL, 1835 form-family. A short and well-preserved quadrupedal trackway, composed of two manus-pes couples, is assigned to Chirotherium cf. barthii KAUP, 1835. A reinterpretation of the Vieux Emosson ichnotaxa reveals that most tracks, if not all, belong to indeterminate chirotheriid and that no clear evidence of dinosaur footprints is observed. The trampled bed of the cover of the Aiguilles Rouges Massif probably forms a megatracksite, which is Early or Middle Triassic in age.

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We thank Philippe Wagneur (MHNG) for photographs of Fig. 2a, b and for photographic work for preparing the maps. MA and MB were supported by the Promotion of Educational Policies, University and Research Department of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol as part of the project “The Permian–Triassic ecological crisis in the Dolomites: extinction and recovery dynamics in Terrestrial Ecosystems”. We are grateful to the editor of the SJPO, Loïc Costeur, as well as to Matteo Belvedere and an anonymous referee for their quick and thorough reviews of this article.

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Correspondence to Lionel Cavin.

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Cavin, L., Avanzini, M., Bernardi, M. et al. New vertebrate trackways from the autochthonous cover of the Aiguilles Rouges Massif and reevaluation of the dinosaur record in the Valais, SW Switzerland. Swiss J Palaeontol 131, 317–324 (2012).

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  • Chirotheriidae
  • Mesozoic
  • Alps
  • Megatracksite
  • Chirotherium cf. barthii