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New method for estimating locomotion type in large ground birds



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper that may be of interest:

Delphine Angst, Eric Buffetaut, Christophe Lecuyer and Romain Amiot (2015)
A new method for estimating locomotion type in large ground birds.
Palaeontology (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/pala.12224
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pala.12224/abstract


Estimating the locomotion type of fossil ground birds is necessary for
a better understanding of their ecology. Until now, only one method
has allowed us to estimate the locomotion of fossil ground birds, but
its application is complicated in the majority of fossil cases because
it requires data from the three bones from the same hindlimb of one
individual. Here, we propose a new method using only the maximum
length and minimum width of the tarsometatarsus to estimate the
locomotion of these fossil birds. This method is easy to apply and
better distinguishes the intermediate cases between graviportal
(walking) and cursorial (running) birds. This study shows that the
species of large ground birds of the families Gastornithidae and
Brontornithidae were all graviportal, probably because of their large
body mass. More unexpectedly, it also shows that some Phorusrhacidae
(e.g. Paraphysornis), usually described as cursorial birds, were in
fact graviportal, probably because of their considerable body mass.
All these new data about locomotion provide a better understanding of
the ecology of fossil ground birds.