Saturday, 17 August 2013

Ostrich necks give clues to dinosaur flexibility

The familiar view of sauropod dinosaurs reaching out for vegetation using their long, graceful necks may not be entirely accurate, say scientists.

A study of modern-day ostriches suggests the ancient animals were probably quite stiff in their movement.

Sauropod dinosaurs had a thick mass of muscle in their necks and the researchers say this would probably have restricted the range over which the beasts could move their heads.

The study is published in Plos One.

Its authors say the findings have implications for the way we display the dinosaurs in museum exhibits and in the media.

Computer modelling that has been used to simulate sauropod movements will not have portrayed the lack of neck flexibility accurately, the team adds.

For example, the BBC's landmark TV series Walking with Dinosaurs modelled the neck movement using the position of the vertebrae.

But this did not account for the effects of soft tissues like muscle and cartilage, which this new study tries to incorporate by looking at ostriches.

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