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Selected studies on terrestrial vertebrate palaeoichnology of western Canada Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McCrea, Richard T.
Supervisor and department
Dr. S. George Permberton - Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Philip J. Currie - Department of Biological Sciences
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Alison Murray - Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. David Eberth - Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
Dr. Tom Chacko - Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Murray Gingras - Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The past quarter century has seen a marked increase in the recognition of fossil vertebrate tracksites in western Canada, primarily in Alberta and British Columbia. Notable new finds include the first record of sauropods in Canada, evidence of herding behavior in tyrannosaurs and ankylosaurs, multiple avian track sites nearly spanning the entire Cretaceous Period, and recognition and description of pathologies from footprints. First discoveries of track specimens from several formations in western Canada include the Mountain Park Member of the Gates Formation in Alberta, and the Boulder Creek, Goodrich, Kaskapau, Cardium and Marshybank formations in northeastern British Columbia. Significant finds continue to be made in the Wapiti Formation in western Alberta near Grande Cache and in northeastern British Columbia. Tracks are virtually unknown from pre-Cretaceous rocks in western Canada, with the only possible exception being the last stage of the Jurassic (Tithonian). The majority of the oldest tracksites are found in and around the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, whereas the younger tracksites are found in the Foothills and Plains of both British Columbia and Alberta. The record of fossil vertebrate tracks in western Canada is important for filling the temporal gaps in known occurrences of terrestrial vertebrates left by a sparse skeletal record. Fossil tracks and trackways can also be used to interpret the behavior, biomechanics and ecology of extinct animals in ways not possible to realize solely from the study of skeletal remains.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
McCrea, R.T., L.G. Buckley, A.G. Plint, P.J. Currie, J.W. Haggart, C.W. Helm, and S.G. Pemberton,2014. A review of vertebrate track-bearing formations from the Mesozoic and earliest Cenozoic of western Canada with a description of a new theropod ichnospecies and reassignment of an avian ichnogenus, pp. 5-93. In M.G. Lockley, and S.G. Lucas (eds.). Fossil footprints of western North America. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Sciences Bulletin, 62.McCrea, R.T., Pigeon, T., 2014. Replication and description of a large theropod and large ornithopod trackway recovered from Upper Minnes Group (Lower Cretaceous: Valanginian) of the Peace Region of British Columbia, pp.269-277. In M.G. Lockley, and S.G. Lucas (eds.). Tracking dinosaurs and other tetrapods in western North America. New Mexico Museum of Natural History Bulletin, 62.McCrea, R.T., L.G. Buckley, A. G. Plint, M.G. Lockley, N.A. Matthews, T.A. Noble, L. Xing, and J.R. Krawetz 2015. Vertebrate ichnites from the Boulder Creek Formation (Lower Cretaceous: middle to ?upper Albian) of northeastern British Columbia, with a description of a new avian ichnotaxon, Paxavipes babcockensis, ichnogen. et, isp. nov. Cretaceous Research, 55: 1-18.McCrea, R.T., P.J. Currie, and S.G. Pemberton 2005. Vertebrate ichnology, pp. 405-416. In P.J. Currie, and E.B. Koppelhus (eds.), Dinosaur Provincial Park: A spectacular ancient ecosystem revealed. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 648p.McCrea, R.T., L.G. Buckley, J.A. Farlow, M.G. Lockley P.J. Currie, N.A. Matthews, and S.G. Pemberton, 2014. A ‘terror of tyrannosaurs’: the first trackways of tyrannosaurids and evidence of gregariousness and pathology in Tyrannosauridae. PLoS ONE, 9(7): 1-13.McCrea, R.T., S.G. Pemberton, and P.J. Currie 2004. New ichnotaxa of mammal and reptile tracks from the Upper Paleocene of Alberta. Ichnos, 11(3-4): 323-339.McCrea, R.T., D.H. Tanke, L.G. Buckley, M.G. Lockley, J.O. Farlow, L. Xing, N.A. Matthews, C.W. Helm, S.G. Pemberton, and B.H. Breithaupt 2015. Vertebrate ichnopathology: pathologies inferred from dinosaur tracks and trackways from the Mesozoic. Ichnos, 22: 235-260.

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