Dinosaur fossil beds
in the Iberian peninsula

Pedra da Mua

Pedra da Mua (Cabo Espichel, Setubal, Portugal)
Upper Jurassic (Tithonian)
Pedra da Mua National Monument

In Pedra da Mua there are almost 700 impressions of the hands and feet of sauropods and approximately ten tridactyl theropod tracks. In the eight stratigraphic levels in which the ichnites appear, thirty-eight sauropod and two theropod trails have been identified, some of which are 40 metres long. The sauropod tracks of Pedra da Mua have been attributed to the Brontopodus isp. and Parabrontopodus isp. ichnogenera The tridactyl tracks are from undetermined theropods.

The main relevance from a scientific point of view lies in the fact that this site offers an excellent testimony to a herd made up of at least seven young sauropods moving towards the south east. The adult dinosaurs were the last to pass as there is evidence that some stepped over the smaller tracks. These parallel trails are the first convincing example of herd behaviour in sauropods recognised in a European site.

Another noteworthy aspect, from a historical point of view, is that a 17th century ceramic panel can be found in a nearby chapel, which represents the legend of Nossa Senhora da Pedra da Mua. Said legend dates back to 1410 and tells of the apparition of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus upon a mule. This explained the presence of tracks in the vertical stratum of the cliffs. The tracks are drawn on the ceramic, therefore this is the first representation of dinosaur ichnites in the world

Pedra da Mua. Click to enlargePedra da Mua. Click to enlarge
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