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Palaeontology

Mystery dinosaur tracks - did sauropods really walk on two legs ?

By T.K. Randall
November 27, 2021 · Comment icon 8 comments



Image Credit: Vlad Konstantinov / Queensland and Eromanga Natural History museums
Strange tracks left by giant sauropod dinosaurs have been leaving experts scratching their heads.
These gargantuan creatures, which would have made even the woolly mammoth look positively minuscule, were some of the largest land animals ever to walk the face of the Earth.

To support their enormous size and weight, they relied upon four huge legs as thick as tree trunks, which as it happens also made deep impressions in the ground that have since been found, millions of years later, as fossilized prints, providing palaeontologists with a wealth of information about the lives and behaviors of these fascinating plant-eating giants.

There is however a snag - in some rare cases, sauropod footprints have been found showing the tracks, not of a four-legged animal, but of an animal walking on two legs.

The tracks are undoubtedly those of a giant sauropod - which always have four legs - so how is it possible that such a huge creature could be walking around on just two legs ?
It's a conundrum that has puzzled experts for years and there are two main theories.

One, is that the dinosaur that left the prints was submerged in water of a depth that enabled two of its legs to reach the sediment while the other two legs remained suspended off the bottom.

The second theory is that, on some surfaces, the heavier front legs might leave impressions while the rear legs - which carry less weight - may not leave sufficient enough impressions to become fossilized.

As things stand, however, nobody is quite sure which of these theories - if either - are true.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
Maybe one sauropod was busy mounting another one, and so left only tracks of its hindfeet??
Comment icon #2 Posted by jethrofloyd 1 year ago
They stood on their hind legs while reachig a tops of the trees?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
That should have left tail tracks too.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Nnicolette 1 year ago
I thought we already knew that they stood up to get high leaves. At least they are always depicted doing this. Maybe they did it without putting thier tail on the ground. Probably used it for balance.
Comment icon #5 Posted by fred_mc 1 year ago
Quote from†https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaurs_in_Jurassic_Park†: "The film inaccurately depicts the species as having the ability to stand on its hind legs, allowing it to reach high tree branches."
Comment icon #6 Posted by Nnicolette 1 year ago
Is it so inaccurate when pairs of sauropod footprints have been found? Didn't they say that the prints were somehow determined to be front feet? Maybe they did handstands. To reach farther with thier tail or something weird.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Trelane 1 year ago
I like the thought of that. Giagantic sauropods doing handstands.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Tom1200 1 year ago
Go on you two - laugh about it.† But constipation is a serious matter for us larger folk, and it must have been absolute agony for bronty-sore-ar$e.† It's all the fault of trees, but in today's crazy woke world 'trees are good' and we're not allowed to criticise them.† The fat dinosaurs were perfectly happy eating bran and ferns and other stuff that kept them regular, then these new-fangled trees evolved and displaced all the nice soft plants.† Have you ever tried eating wood?† So the dinosaurs had to switch diet but it didn't agree with them and they got all blocked up.† What happens when din... [More]


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