First report on dinosaur tracks from the Burro Canyon Formation, San Juan County, Utah, USA – evidence of a diverse, hitherto unknown Lower Cretaceous dinosaur fauna

Jesper Milàn, Luis M. Chiappe, David B. Loope, James I. Kirkland, Martin G. Lockley


The newly discovered White Mesa tracksite in the Burro Canyon Formation represents a snapshot of a diverse, Lower Cretaceous dinosaur fauna from south-eastern Utah. The tracks were found at a construction site where the sandstone had been bulldozed and broken up. All tracks were found as deep, well-preserved natural casts on the underside of the sandstone slabs. Individual theropod tracks are 19–57 cm in length; one peculiar track shows evidence of a possible pathological swelling in the middle of digit III and an apparently didactyl track is tentatively assigned to a dromaeosaurid. Individual sauropod tracks are found with pes lengths of 36–72 cm, and interestingly, three distinct shapes of manus tracks, ranging from wide banana shaped to rounded and hoof-like. Ornithopods are represented with individual tracks 18–37 cm in length; a single track can possibly be attributed to the thyreophoran ichnogenus Deltapodus. Zircon U-Pb dating places the track-bearing layer in the Barremian, contemporary to the lower Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation, which has a similar faunal composition based on both tracks and body fossils. This new track-fauna demonstrates the existence of a diverse dinosaurian assemblage in the lower part of the Burro Canyon Formation, which hitherto is not known to yield skeletalre mains.

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