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Meat-eating Dinosaurs Could Sprint as Fast as some Cars, Footprints Suggest

Theropods are ancestrally carnivorous and two-legged with three toes each. (Image Credits: Shutterstock/Representative)

Theropods are ancestrally carnivorous and two-legged with three toes each. (Image Credits: Shutterstock/Representative)

Scientists cite the evolutionary changes such as the reduction and loss of the tail and the modification of posture as reasons for the inability to compare.

A new study conducted by the researchers from Universidad de La Rioja in Igea in the northern part of Spain reveals that the dinosaurs in the category theropods could achieve a speed of up to 28 mph. To put things into perspective, the fastest human ever recorded, Usain Bolt’s record-breaking sprint was 27.5 mph. The study was led by Pablo Navarro‐Lorbés and colleagues, who have written a paper detailing their findings, which marks a turning point in the understanding of dinosaur mobility.

Theropods are ancestrally carnivorous and two-legged with three toes each. These tracks reveal the presence of some of the fastest dinosaurs on record. While the researchers have expressed difficulty in identifying the trackmakers as belonging to a particular theropod group, the size and similar characteristics of the footprints have shown that these dinosaurs were very agile, medium- sized and non-avian.

The two sets of tracks, while belonging to the creatures of the same taxonomic group, have significant variations in their patterns. One of the tracks shows the signs of being created by a dinosaur with considerable speed control while running. What makes these studies particularly challenging is the absence of the form of bipedalism manifesting in dinosaurs, in the present species. This lack of comparison cannot be rectified even with matching these records with birds that share many similar features with non-avian bipedal dinosaurs.

Scientists cite the evolutionary changes such as the reduction and loss of the tail and the modification of posture as reasons for the inability to compare.

Their carnivorous nature, along with their size – the footprints measured were around 12 inches – already made them a formidable predator. However, their ability to maneuver quickly and change speed according to will makes them even more dangerous as a predator than we initially believed. The lead researcher Navarro‐Lorbés admits that he would not like to be caught by this magnificent creature.

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first published:December 18, 2021, 14:14 IST