3D paleo-reconstruction of a sauropod dinosaur. Credit: Dr. Andreas Jannel
A study reveals how dinosaurs brought their enormous weight.
Scientists have fixed a long-standing mystery by determining how sauropod dinosaurs, such as the Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, supported their huge bodies on land.
A group headed by the University of Queensland and Monash University used engineering methods and 3D modeling to digitally assess the performance and reconstruct of numerous sauropods foot bones.
According to Dr. Andréas Jannel, who carried out the study as part of his Ph.D. research studies at UQs Dinosaur Lab, the researchers found that sauropods hind feet had a soft tissue pad under the “heel,” cushioning the foot to absorb their huge weight.
” Weve finally validated a long-suspected concept and we provide, for the first time, biomechanical proof that a soft tissue pad– particularly in their back feet– would have played a crucial function in decreasing locomotor pressures and bone stresses,” Dr. Jannel stated. “It is astonishing to think of that these huge creatures might have been able to support their own weight on land.”
The sauropods had soft tissue pads to absorb their massive weight and enable them to stroll on land. Credit: Dr. Andreas Jannel
Sauropods were the worlds biggest terrestrial animals, strolling the world for over 100 million years.
They were initially believed to have actually been semi-aquatic with their huge weight supported by water buoyancy. Nevertheless, this hypothesis was disproved after the discovery of sauropod tracks in terrestrial deposits in the middle of the twentieth century.
According to Dr. Olga Panagiotopoulou of Monash University, it had likewise been believed that sauropods possessed feet comparable to those of an elephant today.
” Popular culture– believe Jurassic Park or Walking with Dinosaurs– often depicts these behemoths with almost-cylindrical, thick, elephant-like feet,” Dr. Panagiotopoulou said. “But when it comes to their skeletal structure, elephants are in fact tip-toed on all 4 feet, whereas sauropods have various foot configurations in their front and back feet. Sauropods front feet are more columnar-like, while they provide more wedge high heels at the back supported by a large soft tissue pad.”
Animation of a theoretical sauropods foot being supported by a soft tissue pad. Credit: Dr. Andreas Jannel
According to UQs Associate Professor Steve Salisbury, this is due to the fact that elephants and sauropods had various evolutionary origins.
” Elephants belong to an ancient order of mammals called proboscideans, which initially appeared in Africa roughly 60 million years ago as small, nondescript herbivores,” Associate Professor Salisbury stated.
” In contrast, sauropods– whose forefathers initially appeared 230 million years ago– are more carefully associated to birds. They were nimble, two-legged herbivores and it was only later on in their development that they walked on all fours. Crucially, the transition to ending up being the largest land animals to stroll the earth appears to have actually involved the adaptation of a heel pad.”
The researchers now plan to utilize 3D modeling and engineering techniques to make further discoveries.
” Im keen to apply a similar method to a whole limb and to consist of additional soft tissue such as muscles, which are rarely maintained in fossils,” Dr. Jannel stated.
” Were likewise delighted to study the limbs and feet of other prehistoric animals. This must enable us to respond to different concerns about the biomechanics of extinct animals and better comprehend their environmental adaptations, motion, and way of life.”
Reference: “Softening the steps to gigantism in sauropod dinosaurs through the evolution of a pedal pad” by Andréas Jannel, Steven W. Salisbury and Olga Panagiotopoulou, 10 August 2022, Science Advances.DOI: 10.1126/ sciadv.abm8280.
” Popular culture– think Jurassic Park or Walking with Dinosaurs– frequently portrays these leviathans with almost-cylindrical, thick, elephant-like feet,” Dr. Panagiotopoulou stated. “But when it comes to their skeletal structure, elephants are actually tip-toed on all 4 feet, whereas sauropods have different foot configurations in their front and back feet. Sauropods front feet are more columnar-like, while they provide more wedge high heels at the back supported by a large soft tissue pad.”
” In contrast, sauropods– whose forefathers initially appeared 230 million years ago– are more closely related to birds. Crucially, the transition to becoming the biggest land animals to walk the earth seems to have included the adaptation of a heel pad.”