giovedì 28 febbraio 2019

Detection of Lower Cretaceous fossil impressions of a marine tetrapod on Monte Conero (Central Italy)

Cretaceous ResearchElsevier



Volume 93, January 2019, Pages 143-150 


Detection of Lower Cretaceous fossil impressions of a marine tetrapod on Monte Conero (Central Italy)

Luca Natali a ⧫,  Alessandro Blasetti b,  Giuseppe Crocetti b

Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana, c/o Museo Civico di Zoologia, Via Ulisse Aldrovandi, 18, 00197 Rome, Italy
Sistema Museale - Museo delle Scienze dell'Università di Camerino, Via Gioco del Pallone, 5, 62032 Camerino, MC, Italy
Corresponding author


Inside the Conero Natural Park, in Central Italy, on the top layers of the Maiolica Formation belonging to the Umbria-Marche succession, we discovered 11 depressions identified as a fossil trackway in an area forbidden to the public for safety reasons. We collected data about their dimensional and morphological characteristics, together with photographic documentation and cast collection, in an area difficult to reach. This data, with the characteristic alternation and the almost straight line of the depressions, together with the nature of the sediment on which they were imprinted, lead us to believe that we have found imprints constituting a trackway generated on a deep seabed. Furthermore, the results of our studies allow us to hypothesize that the series of tracks may have been impressed by the fore-paddles of a Lower Cretaceous marine tetrapod, a reptile not yet identified. According to current knowledge, the examined tracks seem to be unique for this period and rare for the deep seabed paleoenvironment.


Ichnofossils; Marine reptile;Tetrapod; Lower Cretaceous; Central Italy; Monte Conero

1. Introduction

This paper comes deals with the discovery, by the senior author L. Natali, of ichnofossils, interpretable as imprints impressed in deep sea sediments, within the Natural Park of Conero. Shortly after the discovery, Natali informed Dr. Stefano Finocchi, area inspector for the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of the Marche Region, by means of a detailed written scientific report that is included in this paper. The Science Museum of the University of Camerino, here represented by the co-authors A. Blasetti and G. Crocetti, was commissioned by the local Superintendent to take care of the geological study and laboratory analysis. The importance of this study stems from the fact that comparatively little is known of the deep seabed paleoenvironment in Italy and worldwide [...], while there is quite a lot of literature on swim tracks bottom walking on shallow waters by aquatic tetrapods such as fresh and marine water turtles and crocodiles [...]. [...]

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