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    Investigating the quadrupedal abilities of Scutellosaurus lawleri and its implications for locomotor behavior evolution among dinosaurs

    Anderson, L, Brassey, C ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6552-541X, Pond, S, Bates, K and Sellers, WI (2023) Investigating the quadrupedal abilities of Scutellosaurus lawleri and its implications for locomotor behavior evolution among dinosaurs. Anatomical Record. ISSN 1932-8486

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    Abstract

    A reversion to secondary quadrupedality is exceptionally rare in nature, yet the convergent re-evolution of this locomotor style occurred at least four separate times within Dinosauria. Facultative quadrupedality, an intermediate state between obligate bipedality and obligate quadrupedality, may have been an important transitional step in this locomotor shift, and is proposed for a range of basal ornithischians and sauropodomorphs. Advances in virtual biomechanical modeling and simulation have allowed for the investigation of limb anatomy and function in a range of extinct dinosaurian species, yet this technique has not been widely applied to explore facultatively quadrupedal gait generation. This study places its focus on Scutellosaurus, a basal thyreophoran that has previously been described as both an obligate biped and a facultative quadruped. The functional anatomy of the musculoskeletal system (myology, mass properties, and joint ranges of motion) has been reconstructed using extant phylogenetic bracketing and comparative anatomical datasets. This information was used to create a multi-body dynamic locomotor simulation that demonstrates that whil quadrupedal gaits were physically possible, they did not outperform bipedal gaits is any tested metric. Scutellosaurus cannot therefore be described as an obligate biped, but we would predict its use of quadrupedality would be very rare, and perhaps restricted to specific activities such as foraging. This finding suggests that basal thyreophorans are still overwhelmingly bipedal but is perhaps indicative of an adaptive pathway for later evolution of quadrupedality.

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