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TO late JurassicAs a result of the defragmentation of the supercontinent Pangea, the countries that currently form Europe were part of an archipelago surrounded by a shallow sea. In its interior, the Iberian Peninsula was located in the southernmost part, in the continent of laurasia (which included present-day North America and Eurasia), but near Gondwana, the continent to the south.
In these lands great predators walked, whose traces have been found on different continents. Thus, for example, ichnites and bones of allosaurs and stegosaurs have been found in both North America and Portugal, suggesting that the two territories were connected in some way.
In a new study, published in theJournal of African Earth Sciences, a team of European scientists, with Spanish participation, has now recognized two types of dinosaur footprints related to large Jurassic predators in present-day Switzerland, Portugal, Spain (which belonged to Laurasia) and Morocco (which was in Gondwana).
The brands, called Megalosauripus transjuranicus Y Bronze Sword curtedulensis, belonged to carnivorous theropods similar to Tyrannosaurus rex. “On the one hand, a type of large and slender footprints with a size of 30-50 cm have been identified and, on the other hand, other giant and robust ones of more than 50 cm”, Explains Diego Castanera, from the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Paleontology (ICP) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and co-author of the work.
Paths between shallow waters
In order to distinguish the types of footprints, the team used a novel software called DigTrace, which allowed to compare the fossilized steps in a virtual way. "We cannot know for sure who was the author of a footprint since different related dinosaurs could leave very similar footprints”, Castanera advances.
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However, this study confirms that the differences between the two groups of footprints identified are sufficiently important for their authors to they were different dinosaurs although closely related.
Scientists thus suggest that they probably belonged to Allosaurus and Torvosaurus, since his remains have been found in the Upper Jurassic of Portugal, which indicates the presence of two super predators in terrestrial ecosystems of the late Jurassic.
To confirm these data, the group of researchers stresses that more studies are required especially to answer an important question:How the dinosaurs passed between Laurasia and Gondwana? “The answer is problematic because geological studies indicate that there was a deep sea between the two continents.”, Emphasizes the scientist.
The presence of the same species in such distant places forces scientists to propose dispersal routes between the continents during the Mesozoic, the time dinosaurs lived. These large animals were thus able to move between Africa and Europe over land masses with short periods of emergence through southern Italy and the Balkans or through Iberia (the former Iberian peninsula).
Matteo Belvedere et al. "Late Jurassic globetrotters compared: A closer look at large and giant theropod tracks of North Africa and Europe" Journal of African Earth Sciences 158 (2019) 103547.
Via: Sinc Agency