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An Australian dinosaur seems to have walked out on a natural kind of “high heel,” the researchers suggest.
The Rhoetosaurus brownei — a 24-ton, or 52,910-pound sauropod, which is a long-necked herbivorous dinosaur — walked in with a increased heel, the University of Queensland (UQ), D. Ph. candidate Andréas Jannel said in a press release Friday.
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“In search of the bones of the foot, it was clear that Rhoetosaurus was walking with a raised heel, so the question is: how was the foot be able to support the huge mass of this animal, up to 40 tons?” Jannel said.
His findings were published in April in the Journal of Morphology.
“Our research suggests that, although Rhoetosaurus was standing on her toes, the heel was cushioned by the fleshy pad,” Jannel said. “We see a similar case in the elephant feet, but this dinosaur was at least five times as heavy as an elephant, so the forces are much bigger.”
University of Queensland (UQ), D. Ph. candidate Andréas Jannel and his colleagues studied the fossil of a Rhoetosaurus brownei — Australia only the name Jurassic sauropod. They designed the replica to help them analyze how the dinosaur foot would have moved, when it ran.
(University of Queensland)
Jannel and his colleagues from the UQ Dinosaur Lab examined the fossil of a Rhoetosaurus — Australia only the name Jurassic sauropod — which was found in the southwest of Queensland and had been dated to between 160-170 million years ago.
The scientists used a replica of the fossil to help them test and understand how the bones of the dinosaur foot moves when it ran out and used 3D-modeling and analyze of the different postures of the foot.
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They also studied other sauropod footprints all over the world, who also showed signs of a natural cushioned heel.
“The addition of a cushioning pad that supports the raised heel turns out to be one of the most important innovations during the evolution of species, and probably appeared in the beginning of the members of the group for some time in the Early to Mid-Jurassic Periods,” he said.
“The benefits of a soft tissue pad may have helped facilitate the trend in the direction of the vast amount of sizes we are seeing in these dinosaurs,” Jannel added.
Jannel is now the study of stress distribution within the bones of the foot to give “mechanical evidence for the presence of the padded heel.
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“It can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but I have always been fascinated by paleontology, in particular the relationship between form and function in extinct animals,” he said.
“There is so much more to tell, but it is surprising to discover that the ‘high heels’ and that can already be an important step in the evolution of the sauropod dinosaurs,” he added.