Trotting with emus, walk with dinosaurs

October 25, 2006

Scientists are watching emus to learn more about dinosaurs that once trotted along a long-lost U.S. coastline during the Middle Jurassic period.

One way to make sense of the 165-million-year-old dinosaur tracks found in northern Wyoming may be found in observing emus, large flightless birds which are about the same size, walk on two legs and have feet similar to that of many dinosaurs, said Brent Breithaupt, director of the University of Wyoming's Geological Museum in Laramie, Wyo.

Since there are nearly no documented dinosaur bones from that period in North America, researchers say it's difficult to connect the tracks to a particular dinosaur.

Breithaupt and colleagues decided to look for a modern analog animal they could study to help decipher the tracks. Although large flightless birds are the most logical choice, all are not good options; ostriches have an attitude problem and rheas are "like working with a bunch of kindergarteners on too much sugar."

That left emus, which turned out to be perfect: three toes, the right size, and relatively easy to work with.

The study was presented Wednesday in Philadelphia, during the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Study examines modifications that occur on proteins in natural environments over time

Related Stories

Ancient cycads found to be pre-adapted to grow in groves

August 20, 2013

The ancient cycad lineage has been around since before the age of the dinosaurs. More recently, cycads also co-existed with large herbivorous mammals, such as the ice age megafauna that only went extinct a few tens of thousands ...

Emus get GPS treatment

March 26, 2013

Murdoch University researchers will be placing GPS tracking devices on six emus to track their movements and habits in jarrah forest at Avon National Park.

Australia's stampeding dinosaurs take a dip

January 8, 2013

(—Queensland paleontologists have discovered that the world's only recorded dinosaur stampede is largely made up of the tracks of swimming rather than running animals.

Apple's restriction-free music downloads create pause

February 11, 2009

When Apple Inc. announced in January that it would sell restriction-free music files, that was supposed to mean consumers could buy songs and play them on the portable gadget of their choice.

Recommended for you

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

Search for Egypt's Nefertiti gains new momentum (Update)

September 29, 2015

The search for ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti in an alleged hidden chamber in King Tut's tomb gained new momentum as Egypt's Antiquities Minister said Tuesday he is now more convinced a queen's tomb may lay hidden behind ...

New finds of a living fossil

October 2, 2015

The coelacanth fish, found today in the Indian Ocean, is often called a 'living fossil' because its last ancestors existed about 70 million years ago and it has survived into the present - but without leaving any fossil remains ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.