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Long legs like those of Tyrannosaurus Rex (Tyrannosaurus), are a sign that dinosaurs could be good runners, but also excellent for walking.
For years scientists have assumed that dinosaurs with long limbs developed them that way so they could catch prey and avoid predators with your speed.
But, a new study by Thomas Holtz and his team at the University of Maryland, suggests that long legs evolved among the largest predators to help them conserve energy and travel certain distances when searching for prey.
“The assumption tends to be that animals with their long limbs are adapted to obtain a higher maximum speed.Holtz explained.
“But, when you're a larger animal, those adaptations can also be for endurance and efficiency. It can be a marathoner instead of a sprinter”He added.
Holtz and his team analyzed a large number of metrics as proportion of limbs, proportion of size, body mass and gait, to be able to estimate the maximum speeds of more than 70 species of the theropod group of dinosaurs.
The size of the theropods ranged from those weighing less than half a kilo, to others that exceeded 9 tons, including Tyrannosaurus and many other two-legged predators that dominated in the age of the dinosaurs.
Among the antecedents, we find that both bipedalism and running speed, were cited as the main contributors to its success.
But, the study shows us a more nuanced story, because, according to their results, longer legs were associated with higher speeds in small and medium dinosaurs, but the same did not happen in those dinosaurs that weighed more than 1 ton.
Scientists knew that larger body size could limit speed, and the study showed that the larger, longer-legged dinosaur species were not faster than their smaller siblings, but they did move more efficiently.
“It was actually a very beneficial saving because predators tend to spend much of their time foraging for food, searching for preyHoltz explained.
These results highlight the impact that frequently overlooked on body proportions in the ability to run, and the limiting effect it has.
This study was published in the journal PLOS ONE on May 13, 2020.
Via: University of Maryland.