University of Bristol researchers have found evidence that an early ancestor of the giant sauropodomorph dinosaurs had walked upright. It was also quick and agile. The research paper has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Scientists described their study of Thecodontosaurus antiques. This is a smaller member of sauropodomorphs. It is found at a site in southwest England.
Sauropodomorphs have massive size. Their fossil has shown that they were very large herbivorous sauropods. Scientists found a fossil of one of their ancestors which lived 20 million years earlier. It was 30 centimetres tall when standing.
Scientists have examined the fossil. The fossil was in good condition as it was lodged in a fissure that protected it from the weather. The fossil has also shown that it was approximately 200 million years old. The fossil resembled a velociraptor than the massive, pillar-legged dinosaurs.
Scientists have studied its back legs and said that they were made for running as it was not holding a lot of weight. The muscles have contracted quickly. Grooves, crests, insertion points and protrusions of the animal suggested that the creature was a fast mover. It was able to escape predators by running faster than them. The hip bones suggested the dinosaur was able to twist as it ran. It was allowed to have sharp turns which has helped the species in evading predators.
Scientists also found that the forelimbs had much less muscle. This suggests that they were not used for walking or running. T. antiquus walked upright. Scientists said their forelimbs were outfitted with hands. It made them able to cut limbs and stuff them into their mouths. Deep grooves in the bone suggested flexibility. It was also able to extend an arm to reach higher into a tree.
Scientists also suggested the fossil have a unique opportunity to learn more about dinosaur evolution. It will also help them to learn how dinosaurs walked upright and then evolved to walk on all fours as they grew larger.