Massive dinosaur might have walked on its toes, researchers say

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A researcher from Queensland has demonstrated that a 24-tonne dinosaur almost definitely walked on a type of natural ‘high heels.’ The dinosaur, a Rhoetosaurus brownei was a sauropod of an average size that lived in the region of what is now Roma, in the south-western Queensland, in the Jurassic age, about 160-170 million years ago.

Thorough research has been conducted all over the world concerning the way large sized sauropods were capable in supporting their enormous mass, and initial hypotheses claimed that they almost definitely lived in water bodies which could hold them afloat.

Researchers now think that the dinosaurs were, in fact, able to walk on land, but the exact way on how they did it is still unknown.

UQ Ph.D. candidate Andreas Jannel and his associates from UQ’s Dinosaur Laboratory have been studying the foot bones for Rhoetosaurus, and he claims that the dinosaur most probably walked on its toes.

Mr. Jannel said that the conclusion he came to is that the foot skeleton was raised, supported by a smooth tissue pad. The format of the dinosaur’s foot would behave in the same way as an elephant foot, which steps on its toes sustained by a soft tissue heel, too.

Weighting five times larger than that of an African elephant, however, Jannel had to conduct numerous tests to know how exactly the dinosaur’s foot would have functioned. He and his team constructed physical models of the fossilized bones to get an insight on the movement, and also run computer modeling programs, ultimately concluding that the dinosaur, most likely walked on its toes.

Jannel explained that the soft tissue pad that holds the heel seems to be a leading change which affected the development of sauropods. The convenience of a cushioning pad may have aided promote the drift towards the large body sizes dinosaurs have.

The research has been issued in the Journal of Morphology.


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