World of Dinosaurs/Biomechanics

We can study the function of animal anatomy by comparing the mechanical properties, advantages, and challenges presented by their physical structures.

This page will link out to interesting research topics in biomechanics of dinosaurs.

Locomotion: walking, running, muscles, all that! edit

Different generations in society grow up with different images of dinosaur life. Spooky creeping swamp monsters, lurking giants, or nimble assassins - the movies and pop culture presentations of dinosaurs influence our ideas about past life. But how do scientists decide what dinosaurs really could have done?

Bone structure & Muscle attachments edit

  • Watch a T. rex walk and run, based on schematics of the bones and muscles.
    • Published by Sellers et al., 2017
    • Investigating the running abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex using stress-constrained multibody dynamic analysis

Skulls - biting, crushing, stretching, chomping! edit

Who's got the stronger bite, a Tyrannosaurus rex or an Allosaurus fragilis?

Read the chart of computer model & animal experiment results to find out:

Who could stretch their mouth open wider?

Discuss the relative advantages an animal might gain from having a stronger bite, or being able to open their mouth wider.

On the opposite side of the spectrum check out the mobility of hadrosaur jaws and how this couples with their dental batteries.

This feature makes them well suited to processing plant material and extracting nutrition from otherwise low quality food.

Noses- Trumpets and Mazes edit

Armored dinosaurs like Ankylosaurs aren't just strange of their osteoderms they also have have very convoluted and intricate nostrils given the nickname "Krazy Straw" nasals.

Parasaurolophus has one of the most iconic skulls of any dinosaur but in reality that crazy crest is part of the nose! This nose is hypothesized to have a number of different functions from amplifying sounds to helping regulate temperature.

To take a look at this skull and the nasal for yourself, head here to download the models provided by the authors.

Other crazy heads edit

  • Skull modifications are not limited to typical or pre-existing anatomy. But what these modifications are for or how they develop can be difficult to research and can vary substantially.
  • In ceratopsians skulls these horns change throughout life giving them a very different appearance at various stages in life. Think about how this might affect our interpretations about how these features might be used.
  • Certaopsians are often thought of as using their horns for defense and combat. Studies in recent decades show that while this may have been true in some (like Triceratops) based on evidence of combat scars, for others (like Centrosaurus) we see so few combat scars that it is unlikely they were primarily used in this way.
  • Instead, the horns of Centrosaurus were likely to have been used for visual purposes. Sexual selection or perhaps even species identification by other ceratopsians
  • Pachycephalosaurs are often depicted as combative, head-striking animals like some modern sheep and deer today. Using 3D models and Finite Element Analyses (FEA) we can observe and compare how forces spread through the skull.