Wednesday, 13 January 2021


This trackway from the Iberian Peninsula is a busy one! The theropod dinosaur tracks — and a few sauropods, too — cover the entire surface. They crossed this muddy area en masse sometime back in the Jurassic.

The Iberian Peninsula is the westernmost of the three major southern European peninsulas — the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan. It is bordered on the southeast and east by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the north, west, and southwest by the Atlantic Ocean. The Pyrenees mountains are situated along the northeast edge of the peninsula, where it adjoins the rest of Europe. Its southern tip is very close to the northwest coast of Africa, separated from it by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Iberian Peninsula contains rocks of every geological period from the Ediacaran to the recent, and almost every kind of rock is represented. To date, there are 127 localities of theropod fossil finds ranging from the Callovian-Oxfordian — Middle-Upper Jurassic — to the Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous), with most of the localities concentrated in the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian interval and the Barremian and Campanian stages. The stratigraphic distribution is interesting and suggests the existence of ecological and/or taphonomic biases and palaeogeographical events that warrant additional time and attention.

As well as theropods, we also find their plant-eating brethren. This was the part of the world where the last of the hadrosaurs, the duck-billed dinosaurs, lived then disappeared in the Latest Cretaceous K/T extinction event, 65.5 million years ago.

The core of the Iberian Peninsula consists of a Hercynian cratonic block known as the Iberian Massif. On the northeast, this is bounded by the Pyrenean fold belt, and on the southeast, it is bounded by the Baetic System. These twofold chains are part of the Alpine belt. To the west, the peninsula is delimited by the continental boundary formed by the magma-poor opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The Hercynian Foldbelt is mostly buried by Mesozoic and Tertiary cover rocks to the east but nevertheless outcrops through the Sistema Ibérico and the Catalan Mediterranean System. The photo you see here is care of the awesome Pedro Marrecas from Lisbon, Portugal. Hola, Pista de baile jurásica!

Pereda-Suberbiola, Xabier; Canudo, José Ignacio; Company, Julio; Cruzado-Caballero, Penélope; Ruiz-Omenaca, José Ignacio. "Hadrosauroid dinosaurs from the latest Cretaceous of the Iberian Peninsula" Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29(3): 946-951, 12 de septiembre de 2009.

Pereda-Suberbiola, Xabier; Canudo, José Ignacio; Cruzado-Caballero, Penélope; Barco, José Luis; López-Martínez, Nieves; Oms, Oriol; Ruíz-Omenaca, José Ignacio. Comptes Rendus Palevol 8(6): 559-572 septiembre de 2009.