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Emus A Model For Dinosaurs?
Emus Offer Clues to How Dinos Walked
Oct. 19, 2006 The mysterious moves of two-footed Jurassic dinosaurs
traveling along a long-lost beach have been brought to life with emus.
Unlike computer models that have been developed to simulate the gait, and
therefore the possible trackways of specific dinosaurs, live emus allow
for direct comparisons of complex tracks to specific behaviors, say
researchers looking at the thousands of tracks left behind 165 million
years ago by dinosaurs at Red Gulch in northern Wyoming.
Among the surprises theyve found is that tracks once interpreted as steady
walking may actually be created by the animals stopping at mid-stride.
Another enigmatic type of trackway that now makes sense is where the dinos
appear to have crossed one leg over the other. The motion is a seemingly
weird thing to do, until you watch an emu making the same sort of track,
explains Brent Breithaupt, director and curator of the University of
Wyomings Geological Museum.
Emus, it turns out, have legs that are close together like many dinos
and tend to look around a lot as they walk, Breithaupt explains. This
scanning behavior causes emus to often cross the left foot over the right
leg and the right foot over the left, making the same confusing pattern
seen in the dinosaur trackways.
"Sure enough there are wonderful comparisons," said Breithaupt. "Emus are
our biological Rosetta Stone."