Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giant Oviraptor Tracks from the Hell Creek

It's been known for years that there are oviraptor-like dinosaurs found in the Hell Creek Formation. We find isolated elements mostly. A pubis here, a claw there. Small snapshots into their world, but they don't answer deeper questions like how big they got, how they moved, where they lived (instead of just where their remains ended up).
Skeleton of the new Hell Creek Ovi

In 1997 Mike Triebold was scouting on private land in Harding County, SD for dinosaurs. He came across a strange looking concretion. It looked a bit like a footprint, but as we know, concretions can take on all kinds of shapes. Looking closer, there was another concretion, in the same shape nearby. Then another and another, all in a line. A small excavation was started into the nearby outcrop, and the line of concretions continued. Though the overburden was getting too deep to chase them futher, it is likely there are even more still at the site. Mike recovered the specimens and made them available for research, which will be published on shortly.

Tracks in situ. The largest are nearly 60cm (2ft) across
Excavation of tracks
The concretions have now been identified as a preserved as the trackway of a giant North American oviraptorid, much larger than the specimens that we have skeletal remains for. The trackway shows how fast the animal was moving and even what kind of muck it was trudging through. We made molds and casts of the best ones, I'm thinking it may be a great addition to our ovi display in the exhibit hall.

12 comments:

  1. What was their speed? 3 to 4 mph I bet if walking.

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  2. Great find. Walking? Speed 3-4mph? What was the estimated hip heighth

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  3. Hi, that's a great find, I had never expected to see something like this from the Hell Creek formation and it shows very well how little we know about american oviraptors.
    I made a few sketches of the hyphothetical trackmaker: http://hyrotrioskjan.deviantart.com/art/Cuspipoda-and-more-421998349

    Happy Holidays =)

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  4. Could you please tell me what stratigraphic position are these tracks in the Hell Creek Formation? I am currently working on a drawing of the dinosaurs of the upper Hell Creek Formation, and I need to know if I should put this oviraptorid in my drawing.

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  5. They are from the top of the Hell Creek, same zone as all our Triceratops prorsus specimens. Pes size and stride length indicate an animal nearly twice the height of the holotype Anzu wyliei, though this should come as little surprise as there are several larger Anzu specimens (isolated elements and skeletons) than the holotype material.

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  6. Have there been any actual publications of the trackway, and are the rumors of an associated leg bone (I've heard of a tibia) true? If so, who is in possession of the bone, and what if any work is being done on it?

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    1. Here you go: Name is Wakinyatanka styxi. Reference is here: Lockley, M.G., Triebold, M., and Janke, P.R. 2014. Dinosaur tracks from the Hell Creek Formation (Upper Cretaceous, Maastrichtian), South Dakota. In Fossil footprints of Western North America. Edited by M.G. Lockley and S.G. Lucas. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 62. pp. 459–468.

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    2. Why not Titanoraptor or Gigantoraptoroides?

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    3. You'll have to ask Martin Lockley on that one. I have a PDF of the paper, but I can't seem to find one online

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  7. I'm checking on the name of the ichnotaxon now. Martin Lockely et al recently published on them giving them an actual name.

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    1. Hi, do you have any leads on where this was published? Also, where I could find New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 62. pp. 459–468? I'm desperately looking for something published I can corroborate your post with, but I have had no luck.

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