A previously unknown species of small and rapid carnivorous dinosaur lived among the large and dry sand dunes of the Botucatu paleodesert, a vast desert that covered Brazil around 135 million years ago, according to Federal University of Rio de Janeiro paleontologist Giuseppe Leonardi and his colleagues.
The trackmaker of Farlowichnus rapidus lived in what is now Brazil during the Early Cretaceous epoch, around 135 million years ago. Image credit: Guilherme Gehr / Leonardi et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2023.105720.
Dr. Leonardi and co-authors discovered numerous footprints of the new theropod dinosaur in the Botucatu Formation near Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“The sandstones of the Botucatu Formation originally covered a surface estimated in at least 1.3 million km2, the largest known fossil desert in the Earth’s history,” the paleontologists said.
“The distribution area of the Botucatu paleodesert presents one of the world’s largest megatracksites.”
“The tetrapod ichnofauna from the Botucatu Formation comprises minor bipedal dinosaur tracks (almost all attributable to theropods, with one exception, a doubt ornithopod trackway) along with many thousands of footprints of early mammals, and a single trackway of a lacertiform reptile.”
“Among the bipedal dinosaur footprints, the most common and typical are considered theropod tracks, with long strides and high step angle and always with an acuminate termination.”
According to the team, the trackmaker was a speedy and small (around 1.5 m in length) carnivorous dinosaur adapted to the large dry sand dunes of the Botucatu paleodesert.
These tracks are very different from all the other known theropod tracks and represent a new ichnogenus and ichnospecies, named Farlowichnus rapidus.
The Farlowichnus rapidus footprints. Image credit: Leonardi et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2023.105720.
“Farlowichnus rapidus has a very high step angle, long paces and strides and a very narrow internal and external trackway width,” the researchers said.
“The footprints are almost parallel or only slightly divergent from the midline; in this last case, they show low positive and negative track rotations. No tail marks or drags are visible.”
The name of Farlowichnus rapidus is dedicated to Professor James Farlow, a remarkable paleontologist and ichnologist at Purdue University.
“It’s not unusual to name the fossil after a colleague from around the world they want to recognize, and they chose me,” Professor Farlow said.
“It happens often enough that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not outstandingly unusual.”
“I thought it would be nice if somebody sometime named something after me, but I can’t say I seriously coveted it. It would be very gauche to name something after yourself.”
A paper about the discovery was published in October in the journal Cretaceous Research.
Giuseppe Leonardi et al. 2024. Farlowichnus rapidus new ichnogen., new ichnosp.: A speedy and small theropod in the Early Cretaceous Botucatu paleodesert (Paraná Basin), Brazil. Cretaceous Research 153: 105720; doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2023.105720
Source : Breaking Science News