Prehistoric podiatry: How dinos carried their huge weight

Scientists have cracked a permanent thriller, discovering how sauropod dinosaurs — like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus — supported their gigantic our bodies on land.

A College of Queensland and Monash College-led workforce used 3D modelling and engineering strategies to digitally reconstruct and take a look at the perform of foot bones of various sauropods.

Dr Andréas Jannel performed the analysis throughout his PhD research at UQ’s Dinosaur Lab and mentioned the workforce discovered that the hind toes of sauropod had a tender tissue pad beneath the ‘heel’, cushioning the foot to soak up their immense weight.

“We have lastly confirmed a long-suspected concept and we offer, for the primary time, biomechanical proof {that a} tender tissue pad — significantly of their again toes — would have performed a vital function in lowering locomotor pressures and bone stresses,” Dr Jannel mentioned.

“It’s mind-blowing to think about that these large creatures may have been capable of help their very own weight on land.”

Sauropods had been the most important terrestrial animals that roamed the Earth for greater than 100 million years.

They had been first thought to have been semi-aquatic with water buoyancy supporting their large weight, a idea disproved by the invention of sauropod tracks in terrestrial deposits within the mid-twentieth century.

Monash College’s Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou mentioned it had additionally been thought sauropods had toes just like a modern-day elephant.

“Standard tradition — assume Jurassic Park or Strolling with Dinosaurs — typically depicts these behemoths with almost-cylindrical, thick, elephant-like toes,” Dr Panagiotopoulou mentioned.

“However with regards to their skeletal construction, elephants are literally ‘tip-toed’ on all 4 toes, whereas sauropods have totally different foot configurations of their back and front toes.

“Sauropod’s entrance toes are extra columnar-like, whereas they current extra ‘wedge excessive heels’ on the again supported by a big tender tissue pad.”

UQ’s Affiliate Professor Steve Salisbury mentioned this was as a result of sauropods and elephants had totally different evolutionary origins.

“Elephants belong to an historic order of mammals known as proboscideans, which first appeared in Africa roughly 60 million years in the past as small, nondescript herbivores, ” Affiliate Professor Salisbury mentioned.

“In distinction, sauropods — whose ancestors first appeared 230 million years in the past — are extra carefully associated to birds.

“They had been agile, two-legged herbivores and it was solely later of their evolution that they walked on all fours.

“Crucially, the transition to changing into the most important land animals to stroll the earth appears to have concerned the difference of a heel pad.”

The researchers now plan to make use of the 3D modelling and engineering strategies to make additional discoveries.

“I am eager to use an analogous technique to a complete limb and to incorporate further tender tissue corresponding to muscle tissue, that are not often preserved in fossils,” Dr Jannel mentioned.

“We’re additionally excited to check the limbs and toes of different prehistoric animals.

“This could permit us to reply totally different questions concerning the biomechanics of extinct animals and higher perceive their environmental variations, motion and way of life.”

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Materials supplied by University of Queensland. Be aware: Content material could also be edited for fashion and size.

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