Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 415–428 | Cite as

Wide-gauge sauropod trackways from the Early Jurassic of Sichuan, China: oldest sauropod trackways from Asia with special emphasis on a specimen showing a narrow turn

  • Lida XingEmail author
  • Martin G. Lockley
  • Daniel Marty
  • Jianjun He
  • Xufeng Hu
  • Hui Dai
  • Masaki Matsukawa
  • Guangzhao Peng
  • Yong Ye
  • Hendrik Klein
  • Jianping Zhang
  • Baoqiao Hao
  • W. Scott PersonsIV


An Early Jurassic sauropod dinosaur tracksite in the Lower Jurassic Zhenzhuchong Formation at the Changhebian site in Dazu County, Sichuan, is known to have yielded the trackway of a turning sauropod. A re-study of the site shows that all in all there are more than 100 tracks organized in at least three sauropod trackways. The narrow turn in one of the trackways is confirmed and analyzed in greater detail. All of the trackways show a wide gauge similar to Brontopodus-type trackways, but simultaneously exhibit high heteropody typical for Parabrontopodus-type trackways. The relative length of pes digits I, II and III is difficult to determine, but is suggestive of a primitive condition where digit I is less well developed than in Brontopodus. Thus far, they are the stratigraphically oldest sauropod trackways known from Asia being Hettangian in age. Previously, the trackway with the narrow turn was reported as the first turning sauropod trackway from Asia, but recently several other turning trackways have been reported suggesting that this behaviour is more commonly found than previously assumed and is now documented from the Early Jurassic to Late Cretaceous. Most of these examples show tight turns of between ~90° and as much as 180° suggesting that despite their large size sauropods could quite easily and abruptly change their direction of movement.


Sauropod tracks Turning trackway China Dinosaur locomotion Zhenzhuchong Formation Early Jurassic 



Changhebian track locality, Chongqing, China


China University of Geosciences, Beijing










Maximum length of pes


Maximum length of manus


Width of the manus angulation pattern


Width of the pes angulation pattern



This research was supported the 2013 and 2015 support fund for graduate students’ science and technology innovation from China University of Geosciences (Beijing), China. We acknowledge valuable comments of two anonymous reviewers and associate editor Jean-Paul Billon-Bruyat that helped to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

15_2016_229_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material: Detailed map with interpretative outline drawings of the track-bearing level at the Changhebian site. Digitized based on a scan of a 1:1 drawing of the site made on transparent film. (TIFF 1821 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lida Xing
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin G. Lockley
    • 2
  • Daniel Marty
    • 3
  • Jianjun He
    • 4
  • Xufeng Hu
    • 4
  • Hui Dai
    • 4
  • Masaki Matsukawa
    • 5
  • Guangzhao Peng
    • 6
  • Yong Ye
    • 6
  • Hendrik Klein
    • 7
  • Jianping Zhang
    • 1
  • Baoqiao Hao
    • 6
  • W. Scott PersonsIV
    • 8
  1. 1.School of the Earth Sciences and ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Dinosaur Tracks MuseumUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Naturhistorisches Museum BaselBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.No. 208 Hydrogeological and Engineering Geological TeamChongqing Bureau of Geological and Mineral Resource Exploration and DevelopmentChongqingChina
  5. 5.Department of Environmental SciencesTokyo Gakugei UniversityKoganeiJapan
  6. 6.Zigong Dinosaur MuseumZigongChina
  7. 7.Saurierwelt Paläontologisches MuseumNeumarktGermany
  8. 8.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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