how dinosaur tracks are named

How Are Dinosaur Tracks Named?

Dinosaurs rarely died in their footprints, so we can never be sure which specific dinosaur made a certain footprint. This means there is one naming system for dinosaurs and a separate naming system for fossilized dinosaur footprints. Our tracks come from the Connecticut River Valley, an area with an abundance of dinosaur tracks. Seven different types of tracks have been identified in the Connecticut Valley, with several other types of tracks remaining unidentified.

The drawings on this page were made by Kornell Nash. Used with permission.

Names of theropod dinosaur tracks.

Common Theropod Tracks

Three variations of theropod (carnivore) tracks were originally given different names. It was thought they were made by three different dinosaurs. However, many experts now believe they were made by the same type of dinosaur at different stages of growth: juvenile, young adult and full adult. These tracks are primarily distinguished by size (dinosaur tracks are measured from the tip of the claw on the center toe to the back of the heel). They are: Grallator 3 to 7 inches; Anchisauripus 7 to 10 inches, and Eubrontes 10 to 20 inches. These three types of tracks are the most common types of dinosaur tracks found around the world.

Two Questionable Dinosaur Tracks

Two Footprints With Questions

Gigandipus tracks are 10 to 20 inches and are rarely found. It is thought they were made by a theropod (carnivore) dinosaur similar to a Dilophosaurus. They are distinguished from other tracks because tail dragging is associated with them, and the presence of a hallux toe (dew claw) which is the small toe on the right side of the heel in the above illustration. These tracks are very much like Eubrontes tracks. For this reason some scientists believe they were made by the same dinosaur as the maker of Eubronties tracks, but walking with a different stance.

Otozoum tracks are very rare. They were made by what is thought to be a large, bipedal, sauropod type dinosaur, possibly similar to the Plateosaurus. However, no one knows for sure what animal made these tracks.

Anomoepus and Batrachopus

Anomoepus and Batrachopus

Both of the above illustrations show two footprints. These are animals that walked on all four legs. The larger print is from the rear foot (pes). The small impression is that of a front foot (manus)

Anomoepus tracks are typically 3 to 6 inches. They were made by an ornithischian dinosaur (herbivore). The dinosaur that made these tracks was usually bi-pedal, but at times walked on all fours. We'll be looking at these in more detail.

Batrachopus tracks are not dinosaur tracks. They were made by what is thought to be a small crocodilian-like reptile. Batrachopus tracks are typically one inch or smaller.

Next - Theropod Dinosaur Tracks   Tracks In The Museum