London - They were huge, lumbering and certainly not the most graceful of creatures, but when they had to dinosaurs certainly could run, scientists said on Wednesday.
Using prints from a fossilised dinosaur track in a quarry from southern England, scientists have calculated that bipedal theropod dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex could run at speeds of up to 30km/h.
Although the mighty creatures that lived 163 million years ago are long gone, Julia Day of the University of Cambridge said the finding sheds new light on the evolution of the locomotion of dinosaurs and could have implications for biomechanics.
"Dinosaurs could run for short bursts," said Day, a palaeontologist at the university.
She and her colleagues were able to calculate the speed of the beasts from the prints at the track in the Ardley Quarry in Oxfordshire. Their research is reported in the science journal Nature.
The tracks show the dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic period used different hind limb movements for walking and running.
Calculations indicate the lumbering beast walked pigeon-toed with wide steps at about 7km/h but could break into a 30km/h run by splaying its toes and putting one foot directly in front of the other.
"When it is running it is actually doing what dinosaurs are supposed to do. It has a true erect gait," said Day.
But she and her colleagues aren't sure how long the dinosaur could have sustained the speed or if the wide gate was habitually used by large theropods while walking. - Reuters