Tuesday, 2 July 2019


Dinosaur Trackway / Trace Fossils
Walking along the beach at sunset, the last rays of the day catch the edges of ancient trackways of meat-eating dinosaurs who hunted in packs 100 million years ago. These were living, breathing, fear and awe-inspiring beasts that we may never meet in person but can imagine in vivid detail.

It is through their footsteps, these trace fossils, that we get our first peek at behavior we might not otherwise have known. Trace fossils or ichnofossils are burrows, footprints, tracks or even feces left behind by plants and animals that lived long ago. They may have scurried across a muddy exposure or eaten a tasty meal then pooped it out -- leaving behind clues to how they lived, what they ate and what the environment was like at the time.

Dinosaur footprints are an excellent example as they tend to make the news and are met with great excitement. Worm burrows on the other hand often go unnoticed and do not receive the hoopla and applause they deserve.

Ichnofossils can tell us a great deal about ancient environments, the behavior of ancient life and fill in gaps for us through the information they contain. As you might expect, trace fossils are often formed in soft substrates, particularly nice soft mud and sand. Those footprints you left at the beach or along a soft riverbank are candidates for fossilized trackways given the right condition and ichnological studies of the future.