Scientists from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) cool off in the fossiliferous town of La Buitrera (Río Negro) dinosaur footprints dating back 95 million years. The finding consists of 25 footprints, which preserve the marks of the skin and claws of the species.
The research, which was published in the journal Cretaceous research, was financially supported from CONICET, the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion, the Azara Foundation, the Maimónides University and the National Geographic Society. In addition, the work team obtained permission from the Avelás and Mariluán families, owners of the fields where the footprints were found, to work on their properties, to which was added the endorsement of the Río Negro Secretary of State for Culture.
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The footprints are between 30 and 75 centimeters long, while the depth ranges between 20 and 30 centimeters. At the moment, 18 of the footprints found have already been studied. However, still won’t shrink if the traces belong to titanosaurs either rebaquisaursboth species of the family of sauropods who lived in the area of La Buitrera.
The experts were able to observe that some of the footprints, which were found sunk in the mud, had a series of marks linked to foot or hand structures, which the specialists they assume they are scales. They also noted the entry and exit angles of the foot, as well as polygonal markings on the scales on the sole of the foot and, in one case, the curved and elongated claw marks.
“Only 10 centimeters below the level of the footprints, a level with broken remains of freshwater turtle shells“, detailed a statement from CONICET. According to official information, these are tracks “in cut” that can be identified “from the side due to the collapse or erosion of the rock.”
In the discovery zone outcrop rocks about 95 million years olda time when there was a great desert called “Kokorkom“between Río Negro and Neuquén. In this sense, the scientific body specified that the moment of demarcating the footprints coincided with a wet period in the history of the place, in which the presence of clay allowed the footprints to be better marked on the ground.
The statements of the investigator in charge of the expedition
according to Sebastian ApesteguiaCONICET researcher who was in charge of the paleontological expedition, “those footprints allow us not only to study the organisms that left them, but also the environment, sediments, humidity and time of year in which the events occurred.
Regarding the species that caused the tracks, the specialist stated that “we understand that they are sauropods due to the cylindrical shape of the footprints, as well as the marks left by the claw in one of the footprints, since they are claws that are united and not separated into fingers”.
The work of the researchers began in La Buitrera at the beginning of 2020 in charge of Apesteguía and with the participation of the Council scholarship holders Lucila Fernández Dumont and Facundo Riguetti. However, the pandemic suspended the tasks, which were resumed in 2022.
On this occasion, the ichnologists (specialists in the analysis of footprints) joined the study. Ignacio Díaz Martínez and Silvina de Valaisof the Institute for Research in Paleobiology and Geology (IIPG) of the National University of Río Negro, as well as the geologists of the Council Gonzalo Veiga and Joaquín Pérez Mayoralfrom the Geological Research Center (CIG) of the National University of La Plata (UNLP).
La Buitrera is a fossiliferous locality that began to be explored almost a quarter of a century ago and in which important paleontological discoveries have been made as carnivorous dinosaurs of the velociraptor group (Vultureraptor, Alnashetri), neck-longs (cathartesaura), bipedal armored dinosaurs (Yakapil), omnivorous to herbivorous fox-snouted crocodiles (Araripesuchus buitreraensis), herbivorous sphenodont reptiles (Priosphenodon avelasi) and carnivores (tika), lizards, legged snakes (najash rionegrina), long-snouted dryolestoid mammals (cronopio dentiacutus), turtles (prochelidella buitreraensis) and lungfish or dips.