Using step width to compare locomotor biomechanics between extinct, non-avian theropod dinosaurs and modern obligate bipeds

Bishop, P. J., Clemente, C. J., Weems, R. E., Graham, D. F., Lamas, L. P., Hutchinson, J. R., Rubenson, J., Wilson, R. S., Hocknull, S. A., Barrett, R. S. and Lloyd, D. G. (2017) Using step width to compare locomotor biomechanics between extinct, non-avian theropod dinosaurs and modern obligate bipeds. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 14 132: . doi:10.1098/rsif.2017.0276


Author Bishop, P. J.
Clemente, C. J.
Weems, R. E.
Graham, D. F.
Lamas, L. P.
Hutchinson, J. R.
Rubenson, J.
Wilson, R. S.
Hocknull, S. A.
Barrett, R. S.
Lloyd, D. G.
Title Using step width to compare locomotor biomechanics between extinct, non-avian theropod dinosaurs and modern obligate bipeds
Journal name Journal of the Royal Society Interface   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1742-5662
1742-5689
Publication date 2017-07-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rsif.2017.0276
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 14
Issue 132
Total pages 11
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Royal Society Publishing
Language eng
Subject 1305 Biotechnology
1304 Biophysics
1502 Bioengineering
2502 Biomaterials
1303 Biochemistry
2204 Biomedical Engineering
Abstract How extinct, non-avian theropod dinosaurs locomoted is a subject of considerable interest, as is the manner in which it evolved on the line leading to birds. Fossil footprints provide the most direct evidence for answering these questions. In this study, step width—the mediolateral (transverse) distance between successive footfalls—was investigated with respect to speed (stride length) in non-avian theropod trackways of Late Triassic age. Comparable kinematic data were also collected for humans and 11 species of ground-dwelling birds. Permutation tests of the slope on a plot of step width against stride length showed that step width decreased continuously with increasing speed in the extinct theropods (p < 0.001), as well as the five tallest bird species studied (p < 0.01). Humans, by contrast, showed an abrupt decrease in step width at the walk–run transition. In the modern bipeds, these patterns reflect the use of either a discontinuous locomotor repertoire, characterized by distinct gaits (humans), or a continuous locomotor repertoire, where walking smoothly transitions into running (birds). The non-avian theropods are consequently inferred to have had a continuous locomotor repertoire, possibly including grounded running. Thus, features that characterize avian terrestrial locomotion had begun to evolve early in theropod history.
Keyword Step width
Locomotion
Theropods
Birds
Fossil footprints
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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