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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
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
Alexander, R. (1976). Estimates of speeds of dinosaurs. Nature, 261, 129–130.
Avanzini, M., Leonardi, G., & Mietto, P. (2003). Lavinipes cheminii ichnogen. ichnosp. nov., a possible sauropodomorph track from the Lower Jurassic of the Italian Alps. Ichnos, 10, 179–193.
Barrett, P. M., Upchurch, P., Zhou, X. D., & Wang, X. L. (2007). The skull of Yunnanosaurus huangi Young, 1942 (Dinosauria: Prosauropoda) from the Lower Lufeng Formation (Lower Jurassic) of Yunnan, China. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 150, 319–341.
Castanera, D., Pascual, C., Canudo, J. I., Hernandez, N., & Barco, J. L. (2012). Ethological variations in gauge in sauropod trackways from the Berriasian of Spain. Lethaia, 45, 476–489.
Castanera, D., Vila, B., Razzollini, N. L., Santos, V. F., Pascual, C., & Canudo, J. I. (2014). Sauropod trackways of the Iberian Peninsula: palaeoetological and palaeoenvironmental implications. Journal of Iberian Geology, 40, 49–59.
Chen, P. J., Li, J., Matsukawa, M., Zhang, H., Wang, Q., & Lockley, M. G. (2006). Geological ages of dinosaur–track–bearing formations in China. Cretaceous Research, 27(1), 22–32.
Dong, Z. M. (1984). A new prosauropod from Ziliujing formation of Sichuan Basin. Vertebrata PalAsiatica, 22(4), 310–313.
Dong, Z., Zhou, S. & Zhang, Y., 1983: The Dinosaurian Remains from Sichuan Basin, China: Palaeontologia Sinica, whole number 162, new series C, 23, 1–145.
Farlow, J. O. (1992). Sauropod tracks and trackmakers: integrating the ichnological and skeletal records. Zubia, 10, 89–138.
He, X. L., Wang, C. S., & Liu, S. Z. (1998). A new species of sauropod from the Early Jurassic of Gongxian County, Sichuan. Acta Geologica Sichuan, 18(1), 1–7.
Ishigaki, S. (1988). Les empreintes de Dinosaures du Jurassique inférieur du Haut Atlas central marocain: Notes du Service géologique du Maroc (pp. 79–86).
Ishigaki, S., & Matsumoto, Y. (2009). “Off–tracking”–like phenomenon observed in the turning sauropod trackway from the Upper Jurassic of Morocco. Memoir of the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, 8, 1–10.
Kim, J. Y., & Lockley, M. G. (2012). New sauropod tracks (Brontopodus pentadactylus ichnosp. nov.) and from the Early Cretaceous Haman Formation of Jinju area, Korea: implications for sauropods manus morphology. Ichnos, 19, 84–92.
Le Loeuff, J., Khansubha, S., Buffetaut, E., Sutethorn, V., Tong, H., & Souillat, C. (2002). Dinosaur footprints from the Phra Wihan Formation (Early Cretaceous of Thailand). Comptes Rendus Palevol, 1, 287–292.
Li, J., Lockley, M. G., Zhang, Y. G., Hu, S. M., Matsukawa, M., & Bai, Z. Q. (2012). An important ornithischian tracksite in the Early Jurassic of the Shenmu Region, Shaanxi, China. Acta Geologica Sinica, 86, 1–10.
Li, K., Yang, C. Y., Liu, J., & Wang, Z. X. (2010). A new sauropod dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic of Huili, Sichuan, China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica, 48(3), 185–202.
Liu, D. D., Yang, Z. R., Yang, Y. D., Bao, Y. Y., & Liu, B. (2009). Characteristic of the Flora in the Zhenzhuchong Formation and the Jurassic–Triassic Boundary in the Sichuan Basin. Journal of Earth Sciences and Environment, 31(3), 254–259.
Lockley, M. G. (2001). Trackways-dinosaur locomotion p. In D. E. G. Briggs & P. Crowther (Eds.), Paleobiology: A synthesis (pp. 412–416). Oxford: Blackwell.
Lockley, M. G., Farlow, J. O., & Meyer, C. A. (1994). Brontopodus and Parabrontopodus ichnogen. nov. and the significance of wide- and narrow-gauge sauropod trackways. Gaia, 10, 135–145.
Lockley, M. G., Houck, K., Yang, S. Y., Matsukawa, M., & Lim, S. K. (2006). Dinosaur dominated footprint assemblages from the Cretaceous Jindong Formation, Hallayo Haesang National Park, Goseong County, South Korea: evidence and implications. Cretaceous Research, 27, 70–101.
Lockley, M. G., & Hunt, A. P. (1995). Dinosaur tracks and other fossil footprints of the western United States (p. 338). New York: Columbia University Press.
Lockley, M. G., & Matsukawa, M. (2009). A review of vertebrate track distributions in East and Southeast Asia. Journal Paleontological Society of Korea, 25, 17–42.
Lockley, M. G., Wright, J., White, D., Matsukawa, M., Li, J., Feng, L., et al. (2002). The first sauropod trackways from China. Cretaceous Research, 23, 363–381.
Lockley, M. G., Xing, L. D., Kim, J. Y., & Matsukawa, M. (2014). Tracking Early Cretaceous Dinosaurs in China: a new database for comparison with ichnofaunal data from Korea, the Americas and Europe. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 113, 770–789.
Lucas, S. G. (2001). Chinese fossil vertebrates. New York: Columbia University Press.
Marty, D., Belvedere, M., Meyer, C. A., Mietto, P., Paratte, G., Lovis, C., et al. (2010a). Comparative analysis of Late Jurassic sauropod trackways from the Jura Mountains (NW Switzerland) and the central High Atlas Mountains (Morocco): implications for sauropod ichnotaxonomy. Historical Biology, 22, 109–133.
Marty, D., Paratte, G., Lovis, C., Jacquemet, M. & Meyer, C.A. (2010b). Extraordinary sauropod trackways from the Late Jurassic Béchat Bovais tracksite (Canton Jura, NW Switzerland): implications for sauropod locomotor styles. In 8th Swiss Geoscience Meeting (p. 120), 19.–20.11.2010, Fribourg, Switzerland.
Meyer, C. A. (1990). Sauropod tracks from the Upper Jurassic Reuchenette Formation (Kimmeridgian, Lommiswil, Kt. Solothurn) of northern Switzerland. Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 82, 389–397.
Meyer, C. A. (1993). A sauropod dinosaur megatracksite from the Late Jurassic of northern Switzerland. Ichnos, 3, 29–38.
Peng, G. Z., Ye, Y., Gao, Y. H., Shu, C. K., & Jiang, S. (2005). Jurassic Dinosaur Faunas in Zigong. Chengdu: People’s Publishing House of Sichuan. 236 pp.
Rainforth, E. C. (2003). Revision and re-evaluation of the Early Jurassic dinosaurian ichnogenus Otozoum. Palaeontology, 46(4), 803–838.
Royo-Torres, R., Cobos, A., & Alcala, L. (2006). A giant European dinosaur and a new sauropod clade. Science, 314, 1925–1927.
Santos, V. F., Moratalla, J. J., & Royo-Torres, R. (2009). New sauropod trackways from the Middle Jurassic of Portugal. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 54, 409–422.
Stevens, K. A., Ernst, S., & Marty, D. (2016). Uncertainty and ambiguity in the interpretation of sauropod trackways. In P. Falkingham, D. Marty, & A. Richter (Eds.), Dinosaur tracks—The next steps (pp. 227–243). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Thulborn, T. (1990). Dinosaur Tracks (p. 410). London: Chapman & Hall.
Upchurch, P., Barrett, P. M., & Dodson, P. (2004). Sauropoda. In D. B. Weishampel, P. Dodson, & H. Osmolska (Eds.), The Dinosauria (Chapt. 13, 2nd ed., pp. 259–322). Orlando: California University Press.
Vila, B., Oms, O., Marmi, J., & Galobart, A. (2008). Tracking Fumanya footprints (Maastrichtian, Pyrenees): historical and ichnological overview. Oryctos, 8, 115–130.
Whyte, M. A., & Romano, M. (2001). Probable stegosaurian dinosaur tracks from the Saltwick Formation (Middle Jurassic) of Yorkshire. In Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, England (Vol. 112, pp. 45–54).
Wilson, J. A., & Carrano, M. T. (1999). Titanosaurs and the origin of “wide-gauge” trackways: a biomechanical and systematic perspective on sauropod locomotion. Paleobiology, 25, 252–267.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., Bonnan, M. F., Marty, D., Klein, H., Liu, Y. Q., et al. (2015a). Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous trackways of small–sized sauropods from China: New discoveries, ichnotaxonomy and sauropod manus morphology. Cretaceous Research, 56, 470–481.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., Marty, D., Pinuela, L., Klein, H., Zhang, J., et al. (2015b). Re-description of the partially collapsed Early Cretaceous Zhaojue dinosaur tracksite (Sichuan Province, China) by using previously registered video coverage. Cretaceous Research, 52, 138–152.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., McCrea, R. T., Gierliński, G. D., Buckley, L. G., Zhang, J. P., et al. (2013). First record of Deltapodus tracks from the Early Cretaceous of China. Cretaceous Research, 42, 55–65.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., Yang, G., Cao, J., McCrea, R. T., Klein, H., Zhang, J. P., Persons, W. S. IV, Dai, H. (2016). A diversified vertebrate ichnite fauna from the Feitianshan Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of southwestern Sichuan, China. Cretaceous Research, 57, 79–89.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., Zhang, J., Klein, H., Li, D., Miyashita, T., et al. (2015c). A new sauropodomorph ichnogenus from the Lower Jurassic of Sichuan, China fills a gap in the track record. Historical Biology,. doi:10.1080/08912963.2015.1052427.
Xing, L. D., Lockley, M. G., Zhang, J. P., Klein, H., Persons, W. S. I. V., & Dai, H. (2014a). Diverse sauropod-, theropod-, and ornithopod-track assemblages and a new ichnotaxon Siamopodus xui ichnosp. nov. from the Feitianshan Formation, Lower Cretaceous of Sichuan Province, southwest China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 414, 79–97.
Xing, L. D., Marty, D., Wang, K., Lockley, M. G., Chen, S., Xu, X., et al. (2015d). An unusual sauropod turning trackway from the Early Cretaceous of Shandong Province, China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 437, 74–84.
Xing, L. D., Peng, G. Z., Marty, D., Ye, Y., Klein, H., Li, J. J., et al. (2014b). An unusual trackway of a possibly bipedal archosaur from the Late Triassic of the Sichuan Basin, China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 59(4), 863–871.
Xing, L. D., Peng, G. Z., Ye, Y., Lockley, M. G., Klein, H., Persons, W. S. I. V., et al. (2014c). Sauropod and small theropod tracks from the Lower Jurassic Ziliujing Formation of Zigong City, Sichuan, China with an overview of Triassic-Jurassic dinosaur fossils and footprints of the Sichuan Basin. Ichnos, 21, 119–130.
Marty, D. (2008). Sedimentology, taphonomy, and ichnology of Late Jurassic dinosaur tracks from the Jura carbonate platform (Chevenez-Combe Ronde tracksite, NW Switzerland): insights into the tidal-flat palaeoenvironment and dinosaur diversity, locomotion, and palaeoecology. GeoFocus, 21, 278.
Wright, J. (2005). Steps in understanding sauropod biology: The importance of sauropod tracks. In K. A. Curry Rogers & J. A. Wilson (Eds.), The sauropods: evolution and paleobiology (pp. 252–284). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Yang, X., & Yang, D. (1987). Dinosaur Footprints from Mesozoic of Sichuan Basin (p. 30). Chengdu: Sichuan Science and Technology Publications.
Young, C. C. (1941). A complete osteology of Lufengosaurus huenei Young (gen. et sp. nov.) from Lufeng, Yunnan, China. Palaeontologia Sinica (New Series C), 7, 1–59.
Young, C. C. (1942). Yunnanosaurus huangi Young (gen. et sp. nov.), a new Prosauropoda from the red beds at Lufeng, Yunnan. Bulletin of the Geological Society of China, 22(1–2), 63–104.
Zhang, Y. (1988). The Middle Jurassic dinosaur fauna from Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan. Sauropod Dinosaurs. In: Shunosaurus (Vol. 3, p. 89). Chengdu: Sichuan Science and Technology Publishing House.
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.
Editorial handling: J.-P. Billon-Bruyat and A. G. Milnes.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Xing, L., Lockley, M.G., Marty, D. et al. 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. Swiss J Geosci 109, 415–428 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00015-016-0229-0
- Sauropod tracks
- Turning trackway
- Dinosaur locomotion
- Zhenzhuchong Formation
- Early Jurassic