New research carried out by Harvard University has revealed an unknown function of the dinosaurs’ tail.
Researchers have now discovered that the tail helped them run more stably and efficiently.
This, after previous research focused especially on the legs of these animals. In fact, dinosaurs’ tails were previously thought to be passive structures that only served to help with balance.
Now, aided by a simulation method, Peter Bishop, lead author of the study, and his team wanted to take a deeper look at the biomechanics of bipedal dinosaurs and the function of their tails.
The model used was applied in a digital design made from computed tomography of the fossils of a Coelophysis bauri, a species of dinosaur that lived during the Triassic period, more than 200 million years ago.
In the study, the scientists found that the tails of C. bauri served much more than just counterbalancing.
By preventing this body part from moving in the analysis, the authors found that the simulation animal began to rotate its pelvis differently to compensate for the missing or immobile tail.
“This suggests that the tail had an important role in controlling angular momentum, that is, the moment of a rotating object. If you think of the center of the dinosaur as the axis, the tail was working to keep the creature balanced while its body weight shifted from left to right during a run, ”the scientists note.
The team in charge of the study also believes that the tail played a relevant role in making locomotion energy efficient.
The results of this study were published on September 22 in the journal Science Advances.