How to verify fossil tracks: the first record of dinosaurs from Palestine

Lallensack, Jens N.
Owais, Abdalla
Falkingham, Peter L.
Breithaupt, Brent H.
Sander, P. Martin
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Taylor and Francis
The identification of presumed tetrapod tracks is not always unequivocal. Other sedimentary structures have been repeatedly mistaken for tracks, including other trace fossils such as arthropod tracks, burrows and fish feeding traces; erosional features; and human-made traces. We here review instances of difficult, ambiguous, or controversial cases that have been discussed in the literature. We then discuss four main criteria for the verification of tetrapod tracks: (1) preservation of regular trackway morphology, (2) preservation of track morphology, (3) deformation structures (best seen in cross-section) and (4) the temporal or environmental context. Of these criteria, criterion 1 is the most unambiguous and has rarely been challenged. We apply these criteria to a new site located within the city of Al-Bireh, Palestine, which belongs to the Lower Cretaceous (Albian) Soreq Formation. The site preserves a surface with many indistinct depressions that lack anatomical detail. Two unequivocal trackways are identified per criterion 1, demonstrating the first known occurrence of dinosaur fossils in Palestine. The tracksite is part of the late Lower Cretaceous carbonate platform of the eastern Levant, demonstrating temporal emergence of the platform above sea level and a connection to the mainland.
Jens N. Lallensack, Abdalla Owais, Peter L. Falkingham, Brent H. Breithaupt & P. Martin Sander (2022): How to verify fossil tracks: the first record of dinosaurs from Palestine,