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Late Jurassic dinosaur footprints from Chassiron–La Morelière (Oléron Island, western France)

Abstract

A new dinosaur tracksite was recently discovered in the Upper Jurassic deposits from the Oléron Island (Atlantic Ocean, western France). Tracks are located along the coastline in the tidal area of La Morelière near “Pointe de Chassiron”. They were observed in situ in an evaporitic interval from the “Purbeck beds” Unit. Sediments consist of calcite recrystallised after gypsum dissolution within limestone layers which are composed of thin laminites. The track-bearing surface shows abundant mud cracks and some ripple marks. Ichnofossils consist of medium-sized tridactyl footprints of theropods forming a narrow trackway. In order to obtain 3D reconstructions of the track-bearing surface, the trackway was scanned with a resolution of 0.5 mm using an Artec Eva 3D white-light scanner. As indicated by the track dimensions, the probable trackmaker is assigned to a medium-sized non-coelurosaur tetanuran, such as a megalosauroid or an allosauroid theropod. The palaeoenvironmental context is interpreted as a tidal flat in an evaporitic basin. In addition to the tridactyl tracks, we report sauropod- and thyreophoran-like tracks on two other surfaces from Chassiron–La Morelière.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the association Dinoléron for technical and financial support, as well as the municipality of Saint-Denis-d’Oléron and the Direction Départementale des Territoires et de la Mer which gave permission for the palaeontological study. We thank Christophe Laurent from the society B3D for technical support during the scan of the trackway and Tandra Fairbanks-Freund (Natural History Museum Basel), for improving the English text. We thank Christian A. Meyer (Basel) and an anonymous reviewer who provided useful comments and suggestions.

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Moreau, JD., Néraudeau, D., Vullo, R. et al. Late Jurassic dinosaur footprints from Chassiron–La Morelière (Oléron Island, western France). Palaeobio Palaeoenv 97, 773–789 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-017-0282-3

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Keywords

  • Dinosaur footprints
  • Theropods
  • Sauropods
  • Late Jurassic
  • White-light scanner
  • Oléron Island (France)