January 29, 2022

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Strange footprints in Texas indicate that giant sauropods only walk on their front legs

They were the largest animals that ever walked the earth: sauropody, a group of dinosaurs of this enormous size and stature, are sometimes called “thunder lizards”.

This Huge Hull – Included BrontosaurusAnd brachiosaurus, a double focus Among other things, four thick and strong legs were needed to support and transport his massive body. At least most of the time. Maybe.

Some mysterious ancient paths Described study from 2019 They may provide new support for a conflicting view in paleontology: that these woody giants sometimes moved on two legs, not four, provided that they required a tetrapod (and simple physics).

Effects of sauropods on the Coffee Hollow A-Mel pathway. (Texas Hill Country Heritage Museum)

Strange as it may sound, this hypothesis dates back several decades when paleontologist Roland T. Bird identified unusual footprints of dinosaurs kept on farms in Bandera County, Texas.

The tracks were unusual because the brands were so Palm Referring to footprints made only on the forelimbs and not on the hind legs (known as weatherAnd

“No doubt the sauropod did it, but as I interpret it, the man is swimming.” Byrd wrote in a letter in 1940And

“They all left a strong impression on the forearm, as if the animal was kicking hard.”

Over time, the bird’s interpretation of these footprints only disappeared from Manus, with modern paleontology finding that sauropods were primarily terrestrial animals, not aquatic, as previously thought.

An alternative view of interpreting a single human footprint in this way is that the forelimbs of sauropods (those that carry much of the animal’s body weight) are all those that leave footprints on some surface of the Earth, such as the hind limbs. Supports less weight, and leaves less impact on soil and sediment.

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“An eccentric examination of the mating hypothesis.” (Illustration by RT Bakker/Farlow et al., Ichnos, 2019)

Although this may now be a generally preferred explanation for the path of the sauropod only to Manos, it is true for him dinosaur Running in shallow water at shoulder height on the front legs (with the hind limbs not reaching the ground) was not categorically excluded.

A series of Sauropod trails in Texas gave paleontologists an opportunity to reconsider the validity of the argument.

The tracks were first identified in 2007 in a limestone quarry called Coffee Hollow, which is part of Glenn Rose formation, a geological site that preserves (inside) the footprints of many dinosaurs dating back about 110 million years chalk periodAnd

Teams from Purdue University in Fort Wayne and the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences examined three separate tracks of parallel sauropod tracks exclusively for Manos, in which dozens of individual tracks were preserved for study (before the paint was removed for commercial purposes).

While we don’t know for sure which sauropod only Manus left these footprints, researchers have shed light on the possibility that it was a different species than those responsible for only other Manos footprints. The dinosaur can be seen for the first time in the Glen Rose Formation.

Judging by the size of the feet (up to about 70 cm [27.5 inches] long and wide), the tracks likely belong to a larger type of sauropod and the tracks appear to be true skutoč tracks left on the upper surface, unlike to crawl (Raids were carried out in the lower layers of the sediments.)

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Whether the points support the idea of ​​foot differential pressure ‘Abnormal behavior’ (Let the dinosaurs partially float or float in shallow water), the researchers said it’s impossible to know for sure, but they probably agreed, given the weight of what other fossil evidence suggests.

“The greater differential pressure exerted by the forelimbs on the substrate than the hind legs probably explains the hollow coffee tracks, like only other Sauropod tracks of Manus, but the possibility cannot be excluded that they indicate abnormal motion at this time.” written on his paperAnd

Although the supposed unnatural behavior does not involve ‘swimming’, it is worth considering the possibility that RT Bird is right when they (at least some?) think it’s so deep in the water that their creators can knit, they can pull it out forearms while their hind legs swim from below.”

Finally, the team said that future discoveries will be needed to resolve the issue – which means the sauropod still has a chance of regressing to reality.

Results have been reported IchnosAnd

A version of this story was first published in January 2020.