Thursday, 29 January 2015

Hadrosaurs would have run cross country in dino high school

January 26, 2015

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

In the struggle to survive against big meat-eating dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex, some smaller dinosaurs evolved the ability to sprint, while others developed long-distance running abilities.

The duck-billed hadrosaur fell into the latter category, according to a report from the University of Alberta. The physiology of the herbivore allowed it to outrun T. rex, but only over longer distances. The legendary predator was a faster sprinter.

Published by Indiana University Press, the report describes how hadrosaurs’ large tail muscles (caudofemoralis) affected their running abilities.

Using data from the 3-D modeling of modern reptiles, researchers know T. rex could sprint fast because “the physical distance the muscle has to contract to swing the leg through a single arc is very, very short,” report author W. Scott Persons, a paleontologist from the University of Alberta in Canada, told Scientific American.

In contrast, hadrosaur’s caudofemoralis muscles were attached much farther down on the femur. This made its muscle contractions longer and its strides slower, meaning it wasn’t quick, but could travel greater distances.

The study is based on 75-million-year-old fossils of two hadrosaurs from Alberta, one of an adolescent and one of an adult. The comparison between the hadrodaurs and T. rex is relevant not just because of their potential predator/prey relationship, but also because their physical make-ups are quite similar.

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