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Apatosaurus and trackway
Mounted skeleton of Apatosaurus in position over a trackway slab in the American Museum of Natural History.
The slab is from the Glen Rose Formation of rocks in Texas. This was the first major fossil footprint excavation in the history of paleontology
Thalassinoides, burrows made by crustaceans, from the Middle Jurassic, Makhtesh Qatan, southern Israel

Ichnology is the study of trace fossils.

Parallels can often be drawn between modern traces and trace fossils. That helps scientists decode the possible behavior and anatomy of the trace-making organisms. An ichnologist is a scientist whose area of study and research is ichnology.

Burrows, trackways, trails and borings are all examples of traces made by living things. On the other hand, casts or molds of dead shells or other bodily remains are not ichnotraces.

It may be unclear which species had made a particular trace. Therefore, ichnospecies are named separately as trace fossils.

Examples include:

  • Later Cambrian trace fossils from intertidal settings include Protichnites and Climactichnites, and others
  • Mesozoic dinosaur footprints including ichnogenera such as Grallator and Atreipus (bipedal theropods) and Anomoepus (probably an ornithischian dinosaur)
  • Triassic to Recent termite mounds, which can be several square kilometers of sediment
Dinosaur Ridge tracks
Dinosaur footprints, preserved at Dinosaur Ridge.

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