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Tracks suggest chase, capture, and after-meal respite

From St. Paul, Minn., at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

The still life portrayed in a 315-million-year-old set of fossil footprints discovered in southwestern Indiana is a poignant vignette of life, death, and satiation.

The 1.3-meter-long, S-shaped trackway preserves the footprints left by two different creatures. The left and right feet of the animal that made the smaller set of impressions were spaced about 2.3 centimeters apart, says Joe Monks of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The tracks left by the larger animal have a left-right spacing of about 5.5 cm and straddle those made by the smaller creature all along the trail of prints. Both sets of impressions are scuffed, which, along with the two tight curves, suggests the animals were moving rapidly, says Monks.

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