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Trace fossils (ichnofossils) record the movements and behaviors of the dinosaurs. There are many types of trace fossils. Even the lack of trace fossils can yield information; the lack of tail-furrow fossils indicates an erect tail stance for dinosaurs that were previously believed to have dragged their tails.
- Trackways (sets of footprints) - Dinosaur tracks, usually made in mud or fine sand, have been found at over 1500 sites, including quarries, coal mines, riverbeds, deserts, and mountains. There are so many of these fossils because each dinosaur made many tracks (but had only one skeleton) and because tracks fossilize well. Ichnotaxia (fossil footprints) have yielded information about:
Unfortunately, linking a set of tracks with a particular species is virtually impossible.
- Speed and length of stride
- whether they walked on two or four legs
- the bone structure of the foot
- stalking behavior (a carnivore hunting a herd of herbivores)
- the existence of dinosaur herds and stampedes
- how the tail is carried (no tail tracks have been found, so tails were probably held erect)
- Toothmarks - Toothmarks generally appear in bones .
- Gizzard Rocks - Some dinosaurs swallowed stones to help grind their food (modern birds do this also). These stones, called gastroliths (literally meaning stomach-stones), have been found as fossils. They are usually smooth, polished, and rounded (and hard to distinguish from river rocks.)
- Coprolites (fossilized feces) - Coprolites yield information about the dinosaurs' diet and habitats. Coprolites up to 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter have been found, probably from a sauropod, considering its size.
- Burrows and Nests - Fossils of dinosaurs' burrows and nests can reveal a lot about their behavior.
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