New research reveals how dinosaurs supported their massive bodies
According to Dr Andréas Jannel, as part of his doctoral research at the University of Queensland’s Dinosaur Laboratory, researchers discovered that the hind feet of long-legged animals had a soft tissue pad under the “heel” and absorbed their enormous weight by cushioning the foot .
Dr Jannel said: “We have finally confirmed a long suspected idea by providing the first biomechanical evidence that soft tissue pads – particularly in their hind feet – play a key role in reducing exercise stress and bone stress. Imagine Seeing how these gigantic creatures can support their own weight on land is astounding.”
Sauropod dinosaurs are the largest land animals in the world and have roamed the earth for more than 100 million years. They were originally thought to be semi-aquatic, with their enormous weight supported by the buoyancy of water. However, this hypothesis was overturned after the discovery of the footprints of Walking with Dinosaurs in terrestrial sediments in the mid-twentieth century.
Long-legged animals were also thought to have feet similar to those of today’s elephants, according to Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou from Monash University.
Dr Panagiotopoulou said: “Pop culture – think Jurassic Park or Walking With the Dragons – often depicts these behemoths with almost cylindrical, thick, elephant-like feet. But when it comes to When it comes to their skeletal structure, elephants are actually ‘pointed’ on all four feet, while sauropods’ front and back feet are constructed differently. Their front feet are more columnar, while the back presents more ‘ Wedge heels’, supported by a large cushion of soft tissue.”
According to University of Queensland Associate Professor teve Salisbury, this is because long-legged animals and elephants have different evolutionary origins.
Associate Professor Salisbury said: “Elephants belong to a group of ancient mammals called proboscis which first appeared in Africa around 60 million years ago as small, unknown herbivores. By contrast, sauropod dinosaurs — whose ancestors first appeared 230 million years ago — are more closely related to birds. They were agile, two-legged herbivores, and it was only later in their evolution that they walked on all fours. Crucial What’s more, the transition to becoming the largest land animal on Earth appears to involve an adaptation to the heel pad.”
The researchers now plan to use 3D modeling and engineering methods to make further discoveries.
“I would love to apply a similar approach to whole limbs and include additional soft tissues such as muscles, which are rarely preserved in fossils,” Dr Jannel said. “We are also excited to study the limbs and feet of other prehistoric animals. This should allow us to answer different questions about the biomechanics of extinct animals and better understand their environmental adaptations, movements and lifestyles.”