Large area of Cretaceous dinosaur footprints found in Heilongjiang for the first time

On December 25, Chinese and foreign scientists announced that a large number of dinosaur footprint fossils have been found in Yilan County, Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, the first large-scale early Cretaceous dinosaur footprint sage site reported in Heilongjiang Province. These dinosaur footprints are numerous and well preserved, which is of great value to the study of dinosaur evolution, and is of great significance to further explore the behavior of dinosaurs, the living environment to restore the ancient environment of the region and its geological period of climate change.

Large area of Cretaceous dinosaur footprints found in Heilongjiang for the first time

Expedition uses soft ladders to map dinosaur footprints

It is reported that the study was led by Yan Lida, an associate professor at the University of Geology (Beijing), Qiu Liang, a graduate student, Yu Chunyong, Wang Donghao, and Martin G. Lockley, director of the Footprint Museum at the University of Colorado (Denver), USA. Lockley) and other scholars, the paper published in the international geological journal Palegeography, paleoclimology, paleoecology.

Heilongjiang is rich in fossil resources, is china’s first discovery of dinosaur fossils. For example, in 1902, Russian scholars in the northern Heilongjiang region of Jiayin region of the late Cretaceous fishing light subgroup found Manchuria dragon, it belongs to the duck-billed dinosaur. The fossil site also has tyrannosaurs, chidragons, shark-toothed dragons, large-theft dragons, bird-like dragon fossils found, but the vast majority of fossils of platypus. Fossils of new generation vertebrates include Songhua River mammoths, Plum rhinos, river-set large horned deer, and so on, forming a rich mammalian biota. Unfortunately, the bones and footprints of the early Cretaceous of Heilongjiang are very rare. The only record is that in 1983, Chen Binglin of Daqing Petroleum College (Northeastern Petroleum University) and other scholars found a dinosaur footprint on the west bank of the Peony River outside the southern gate of Yilan County, but no specific description and comparison was made.

In the summer of 2018, fossil enthusiast Julie discovered bivalve fossils and turtle fossils in newly repaired sections on the side of the road in the town of Darenhe, along side with some craters with distinct laws and the footprints of suspected paleontologists. The team then identified the marks as footprint fossils and rushed to the site to begin the expedition.

The study of the fossil site is full of danger, the rock layer level of the footprint point is steep, the angle is close to 70 degrees, can not stand, after the use of soft rope ladder can not carry out the necessary operation, the team turned to the local road administration department, the road administration department sent to lift the car, to help the team obtain the image information of the fossil site.

According to statistics, The Yilan dinosaur footprint group consists of 5 tracks with a total of 70 footprints, including parallel lizard-footed dinosaur trails, three-toed bird feet, and extended three-toed animal foot trails. The length of the foot of the lizard foot footprint is about 49 cm, and due to the significant difference in step length between the right foot and the left foot, it may represent a limp or abnormal gait. Bird’s foot footprint sits mainly to toe, the third toe is the most developed, the second toe, the fourth toe’s claw is almost triangular, and the leading edge is blunt. The claws of the three-toed beast’s feet are parallel and are temporarily attributed to swimming tracks. The combination of animal foot swimming tracks and other dinosaur walking trails suggests that they were formed at different times and environments. The team also re-described Chen Binglin’s old record, believing that his footprints may have been left behind by the A-Dragon.

The Yilan Dinosaur Footprint Group is the first large-scale early Cretaceous footprint reported in Heilongjiang Province, and the discovery complements the early Cretaceous dinosaur fossil record in the region and reflects the diversity of dinosaur biota in the region (including lizard feet, animal feet, bird’s feet, and possible parasols). The discovery of swimming tracks also helped us to understand the behavior of dinosaurs more deeply. The dinosaur biota of the Late Cretaceous of Heilongjiang (including the Amur region of Russia) is likely to be a continuation of this biota.

Related papers: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031018219303578

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