Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The largest theropod trackway in the world?

That Summer of 2011, I couldn't believe my own eyes. After finding some really huge single theropod footprints near Pula, measuring about a meter in length, I managed discovering even larger theropod tracks there. What's more, they were in a sequence: 5 large footprints in a row with regular spacing in between and the adequate pace angulation! There were a few of the prints of the same size and shape outside the trackway as well. Alas, all poorly preserved. Some large iguanodontoid footprints were near, too.
Here is a couple of photographs showing the trackway. I have posted two views for better understanding: from the starting point and from the finishing point. Footprints # 2 and #3 were collapsed in deep mud, while #5 is obviously an overtrack. No 4 is relatively best preserved.
Now hold your breath: the size of the footprint is some 115-125 cm in length, dwarfing any other similar find in the whole world! The footprints were rather broad, but they differ from the ornitischian ones by the relatively slender toes.

There is no way we can identify the exact track maker. However, it might have been one from the stock of the largest predatory dinosaurs of the mid-Cretaceous: a carcharodontosaurid or a spinosaurid. Anyhow, the theropod that left these enormous footprints must have been at least 18 meters long. Below is my restoration of the possible Pula environment with some of the possible track makers.

My article on the finds of giant theropod tracks in Pula was published in 2010 in "Vecernji list" (a major Croatian newspaper)  and in "Zivljenje in tehnika" (a major Slovenian popular science magazine) - "Po stopinjah dinozavrov v Istri" 3/62. I have yet to write the paper.

Notice: The fact that this post is dated April the 1st is just a coincidence. The photographs and the data are genuine and serious and have nothing to do with "April the fools' day".

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