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This study examines computed tomography (CT) scans of a 15.24-cm diameter and 17.1-cm length core cut from Thalassinoides -bearing strata (Hanifa Formation, central Saudi Arabia) to explore the quantitative variability in burrow percentage when estimated using 2D views. A cropped quadrangular prism of this core allowed 202 2D slices in two vertical orientations and 165 horizontal 2D slices. Thalassinoides volume represents 20.0% (burrow percentage) of the total volume within this cropped quadrangular prism. The estimated burrow percentage by the 2D vertical slices varies from 11.8% to 30.3% with a mean value of 19.9% ± 3.3% and 19.6% ± 3.9%, and coefficients of variation of 17% and 20%, for the two vertical orientations. A wider range and slightly more variability are found when estimated burrow percentage using the horizontal slices (burrow percentage range from 6.1% to 33.1% with a mean value of 19.8% ± 6.5% and coefficient of variation of 33.1%). However, analysis of variance results indicated no statistically significant difference between the distribution of the burrow percentage among vertical and horizontal slices. A test of how randomly selected slices of the CT scan would represent the burrow percentage indicated that even five randomly selected slices could retain a mean comparable to the actual burrow percentage of the CT scan. Based on these results, we suggested a statistical way to quantify the uncertainty associated with estimating the burrow percentage from 2D views, an important step toward a complete understanding of variability in burrow percentage (and bioturbation intensity) when estimated from 2D views.
Heteropody Index (HI) is a tool used to calculate area differences between the manus and pes of fossil trackways. HI uses a simple length × width calculation to estimate area. However, since most foot impressions are rarely close to square in shape, HI using a different area calculation could potentially more accurately reflect differences in manus and pes foot area. In this study, accuracy of length × width (L×W) as an area estimate for basic shapes and animal footprints, was tested against two other area calculations, the area of a circle: πr2, and length × carpal width (L×CW) (the width at the most proximal point of the foot in contact with the ground). In addition, accuracy of HI calculations using these methods was tested against HI calculations using actual area of the corresponding shape or underfoot area. It was discovered that in general L×W is a better estimate for area than πr2, in most animals except ungulates. However, for those animals where L×W was a better estimate than πr2, L×CW was more accurate. This paper additionally proposes that by combining the findings of these tests with those of Strickson et al. (2019), foot area estimates for dinosaurs can be estimated more accurately using L×CW, to return an area close to estimates for soft tissue. Previous HI measurements may have overestimated extreme heteropody in sauropod dinosaurs.