Original paper

Dinosaur diversity in an Early Jurassic African desert: the significance of the Etjo Sandstone ichnofauna at the Otjihaenamaparero locality (Namibia)

Wagensommer, Alexander; Latiano, Marianna; Mocke, Helke B.; D'Orazi Porchetti, Simone

Abstract

About 350 dinosaur footprints, including the longest dinosaur trackway currently on record in Africa, are preserved in the Lower Jurassic Etjo Formation at the Otjihaenamaparero 92 Farm in north-central Namibia. This historically significant locality was among the first dinosaur tracksites ever to be reported from the African continent and is today a National Monument and tourist destina- tion. Nevertheless, its ichnofauna was never described in any detail. Herein we discuss its significance for southern African palaeontology. Although originally described in the 1920ies as new ichnotaxa and later compared to other ichnotaxa described from Lesotho, most tracks of the Namibian Etjo Formation are referable to the classic North American ichnogenera Eubrontes, Anchisauripus and Grallator. A single median-sized theropod trackway is cautiously assigned to Kayentapus, but shows characters that differ from North American and European Kayentapus, linking it to other "Kayentapus-like" tracks from Lesotho and Madagascar. A small-sized functionally tridactyl morphotype with posteriorly directed hallux, common at Otjihaenamaparero, appears to represent a genuinely African form that may also occur in Lesotho. This ichnofauna strengthens the assignment of an Early Jurassic age to the Etjo Formation and opens a window on the diversity of dinosaur communities in arid environments of Early Jurassic southern Gondwana.

Keywords

early jurassictheropod tracksnamibiaafricaichnotaxonomydinosaurs