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A new method to calculate limb phase from trackways reveals gaits of sauropod dinosaurs

Lallensack, JN and Falkingham, PL (2022) A new method to calculate limb phase from trackways reveals gaits of sauropod dinosaurs. Current Biology. ISSN 0960-9822

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Limb phase, the timing of the footfalls in quadrupedal locomotion that describes common gaits such as the trot and the pace gait,1,2 is widely believed to be difficult or even impossible to estimate for extinct tetrapods.3, 4, 5 We here present a fundamentally new approach that allows for estimating limb phase based on variation patterns in long trackways. The approach is tested on trackways of modern mammals, where the estimates generally correspond well with the actually employed limb phase. We then estimate limb phases of giant wide-gauged sauropod dinosaurs based on three long trackways from the Lower Cretaceous of Arkansas, US.6,7 Gait selection at the largest body sizes is of considerable interest given the lack of modern analogs. Contrary to previous assumptions,8,9 our estimates suggest lateral sequence diagonal couplet walks, in which the footfalls of the diagonal limb pairs (e.g., right hind and left fore) are more closely related in time than those of the same side of the body (e.g., right hind and right fore). Such a gait selection allows for efficient walking while maintaining diagonal limb support throughout the step cycle, which is important for a giant, wide-gauged trackmaker.10 Estimations of limb phase may help to constrain other gait parameters, body size and shape, and, finally, potential trackmaker taxa.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QE Geology > QE701 Paleontology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2022 10:02
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2023 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.012
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16310
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