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Re: Theropod Swimming (was Re: Thick Tyrannosaur Bones)

On Fri, 24 Aug 2001 20:37:39  
 Jordan Mallon wrote:
>>From: "Steve  Brusatte" <dinoland@lycos.com>
>>What I was trying to get at is that the overall morphology of 
>> >Tyrannosaurus doesn't necessarily reflect the body of a swimmer, 
>> >although it isn't impossible.
>Hmmm... I'm suddenly reminded of a quote from Greg Paul's _Predatory 
>Dinosaurs of the World_:
>"In fact, the long, slender toes, powerful limbs, and supple tails show that 
>theropods were _better_ at mud walking and swimming than the 
>stumpier-footed, stiffer-tailed herbivores... Most theropods probably swam 
>with their hind limbs and a sculling action of the tail.  Because the chest 
>was filled with lungs, they swam hip-heavy, with the head held clear of the 
>At any rate, I know the sense in which your were implying your above 
>comment, Steve.  I just wanted to once again emphasize the fact that 
>theropods were likely better swimmers then they were once credited to be.  
>(And please note that I'm not overly sure how well the above quote 
>translates over to the tetanurans.  Were their tails so stiff that their 
>swimming abilities might have been considerably inhibited?)

Yes, very good point, Jordan.  I agree with you when you say that theropods 
were likely better swimmers than they were once credited to be.  I wouldn't be 
surprised if Tyrannosaurus could swim, but would be surprised if it formed an 
integral part of either its hunting strategy or lifestyle.  If Tyrannosaurus 
really relied on swimming for anything important, it is likely that evolution 
would have favored the development of features that may have made swimming 
easier (how about webbed feet :-)

I have no doubt that Tyrannosaurus was a better swimmer than, say, Triceratops. 
 Hollow, lightweight bones; probable air sacs, theropod lungs; decently-muscled 
legs; long and slender toes (as Paul mentioned), etc.  would make swimming in a 
coelurosaur, like Tyrannosaurus, much easier and efficient than in a 
ceratopsian, pachycephalosaur, etc.  

Really, when you look at it, many animals are able to swim somewhat.  When you 
throw something into the water, whether it be a cat or even a baby human, the 
animal will try, and usually succeed, to swim.  Is that swimming efficient?  
Not always.  Is that swimming necessary for that animal's lifestyle?  Not 


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