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Under the feet of sauropods: a trampled coastal marine turtle from the Late Jurassic of Switzerland?

  • Christian PüntenerEmail author
  • Jean-Paul Billon-Bruyat
  • Daniel Marty
  • Géraldine Paratte
Article
  • 4 Downloads

Abstract

Recent excavations from the “Paléontologie A16” project brought to light thousands of dinosaur footprints and numerous turtle remains from the Late Jurassic of Porrentruy (Swiss Jura Mountains). While most fossil turtles (Thalassochelydia) were found in marly layers that were deposited in a coastal marine paleoenvironment, the dinosaur (theropod and sauropod) tracks were found in laminites that were deposited in a tidal flat environment. Despite extensive exploration, very few body fossils were found in these dinosaur track-bearing laminites. On one occasion, a sub-complete turtle shell (Plesiochelys bigleri) was discovered within the laminites, embedded just beneath an important sauropod track level. The state of preservation of this specimen suggests that the turtle died on the tidal flat and was quickly buried. This is the first evidence that these turtles occasionally visited tidal flat paleoenvironments. Moreover, the particular configuration of the fossil turtle suggests that the shell was possibly trodden on by a large sauropod dinosaur.

Keywords

Turtles Sauropod tracks Tidal flat Taphonomy Late Jurassic Switzerland 

Abbreviations

MJSN

JURASSICA Museum (formerly Musée jurassien des sciences naturelles), Porrentruy, Switzerland

CRO

Combe Ronde, Chevenez, near Porrentruy, Switzerland

CRT

Crat, Chevenez, near Porrentruy, Switzerland

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the excavation team, the preparator of the specimen MJSN CRT007-2 (Pierre Bigler), the photographers (Bernard Migy and Olivier Noaillon), the scientific illustrator (Pierre Widder), and the entire Paleontology A16 team. Special thank goes to Jérémy Anquetin (JURASSICA Museum, Porrentruy) who significantly contributed to and improved the manuscript. We furthermore thank the reviewers Nicole Klein and David Martill, as well as the scientific editor Michael James Benton for their constructive inputs. This study was funded by the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO, 95%) and the Republic and Canton of Jura (RCJU, 5%).

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Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section d’archéologie et paléontologie, Office de la cultureRépublique et Canton du JuraPorrentruySwitzerland
  2. 2.Naturhistorisches Museum BaselBaselSwitzerland

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