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elephant and dinosaur gaits



Relative to the discussion about elephant gaits, Jonathon Woolf (9/28/97; 
8:24a) described the difference between a walk and an amble in elephants, 
and how the second might allow elephants to run faster than 12 m.p.h.  I 
assume this discussion would ultimately have a bearing on how fast 
dinosaurs could move.  Of course, if they could amble, they could run 
faster than if not.

I don't think dinosaurs could amble.  I may be all wet, as my knowledge 
of gaits is limited.  But, the only large vertebrates I know can amble 
are elephants (Jonathon just said so, so I guess that's right), giraffes, 
and camels.  These three animals are somewhat unusual in having very 
short torsos compared to the length of their legs.  Unless they gallop, 
or unless the forefoot gait is wider or narrower than the hindfoot gait, 
they would have to amble to avoid having forefeet get tangled up in hind 
feet.  If quadrupedal dinosaurs did not have similarly short torsos 
relative to leg length, and I believe they did not, then it is unlikely 
they ambled.  Therefore, walking speed would be their fastest speed 
(again, unless they could gallop).

Comments?

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Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu