Are Cursorial Birds Good Kinematic Models of Non-Avian Theropods?

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Bruno Grossi; Patricio Loncomilla; Mauricio Canals & Javier Ruiz-Del-Solar


Determining kinematics of hindlimbs of theropod dinosaurs has been a challenge. Since cursorial birds are phylogenetically closest to theropod dinosaurs they are commonly used as a kinematic model of theropod dinosaur locomotion. Using a comparative biomechanical approach, we found that cursorial birds have a different morphology of legs than non avian theropodos and that appears to be that felines and ungulates share more morphological properties in the hindlimbs with theropod dinosaurs than cursorial birds. We calculated the ratio between the lower leg and the femur, and the relative length of the tibia and the metatarsus with respect to the length of the femur in cursorial birds, as well as felines, ungulates and non-avian theropods. We found that as the length of the femur increases, the length of the lower leg increases similarly in felines, ungulates and non-avian theropods. On the other hand, existing and extinct cursorial birds did not follow this pattern. This observation suggests that the hindlimb of cursorial birds are not well suited to serve as kinematic models for hindlimb of extinct theropod dinosaur locomotion.

KEY WORDS: Cursorial birds; Non-Avian Theropods; Kinematic Models.

How to cite this article

GROSSI, B.; LONCOMILLA, P.; CANALS, M. & RUIZ-DEL-SOLAR, J. Are cursorial birds good kinematic models of non-avian theropods? Int. J. Morphol., 37(2):620-625, 2019.