Theropod tracks from the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary, Tuchengzi Formation, Chengde, China: Review and new observations
Previously known theropod dinosaur footprints preserved as natural casts in the Tuchengzi Formation, on a rock wall beside the railway in Nanshuangmiao Village, Shangbancheng Town, Chengde City, were originally assigned to ichnogenus Anchisauripus and tentatively attributed to oviraptosaurs. The assemblage was restudied in more detail by examining the entire assemblage of 55 tracks associated with two horizons. The size range of the 27 measured tracks suggests a more diverse grallatorid–eubrontid assemblage and potentially greater diversity of theropod trackmakers. The label Anchisauripus, which has fallen into disuse in some recent literature, implies trackmakers of medium shape and size in the grallatorid–eubrontid morphological spectrum. However, given the presence of other theropod ichnotaxa in the Jurassic to Early Cretaceous strata of the Tuchengzi Formation and time equivalent units we suggest that explicit reference to the Grallator-Anchisauripus-Eubrontes (GAE) plexus, or simply the term Grallator-Eubrontes plexus be confined to Lower Jurassic assemblages as originally defined and intended. Further study centered on the 16 known Tuchengzi assemblages and older theropod ichnfaunas is necessary to confirm or refute the degree to which grallatorid–eubrontid assemblages from these different epochs are similar or convergent. Even if the tracks are morphologically very similar inferences regarding trackmaker identity are problematic because the same theropodan trackmaker species, genera or even families were not present in both epochs.
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