How the mighty dinosaurs would have walked millions of years ago. Flickr/Ørjan Hoyd Vøllestad, CC BY
We know that dinosaurs ruled the Earth many millions ago, but how they walked has been a mystery.
Our new research shows that the movement of some dinosaurs has a lot in common with some of today’s ground-dwelling birds. We looked at theropod dinosaurs, which were typically bipedal (two-legged), walking on their hind legs like Tyrannosaurus rex.
In our study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, we took measurements of 211-million-year-old theropod footprints from a quarry at Culpeper in Virginia, in the United States, and compared them to similar measurements for locomotion in humans and 11 species of ground-dwelling bird such as the quail, emu and Australian bush turkey.
This is the first time that locomotion in the three groups of bipeds has been compared on a level playing field. In particular, we focused on a parameter called step width, which measures how widely spaced the left and right feet are during locomotion.