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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Vertebrate Ichnofossils from Jurassic National Monument, Upper Morrison Formation, Utah – A Preliminary Census

Jacob McCloskey

Senior, Geology


Jurassic National Monument, located near Price, Utah, yields a number of dinosaur ichnofossils in addition to prolific skeletal remains. Stratigraphic, ichnological, and lithological data of known dinosaur traces collected at eight localities from Jurassic National Monument were analyzed to expose potential trends in preservational or biological biases within the vertebrate ichnofossil record in the vicinity of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

Ichnofossil localities were recorded with a GARMIN™ GPSmap 76CSx handheld GPS unit and stratigraphic positioning was measured from the contact of the Brushy Basin member of the Morrison Formation with the overlying Buckhorn Conglomerate.

Results show that the most common tracks belonged to sauropod dinosaurs. The majority consist either of sandstone casts or underprints, indicating a strong bias towards mud facies in the sauropod ichnofossil record. This may be the result of a preservational bias, as sauropod prints made in muddy sediment are more likely to preserve, or a biological bias towards mud facies as sauropods may have spent much time walking over muddy riverside sediments supporting vegetation.

Physical specimens collected from the area consist of five theropod traces of various size and preservational quality. All are preserved on the underside of a sandstone unit as casts of the original prints made on a muddy riverbank. The specimens provide additional data for theropod ichnofossils, further suggesting a mud facies bias and indicating better preservation in riverside facies. The specimens are to be 3D scanned for replica production and computer models of casts and corresponding inverted molds produced.

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