To reconstruct the movement of theropods, the ancient bipedal dinosaurs, many species of birds have been studied, including the Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca). The study aims to better understand the habits and appearance of these giants of the past, and is made possible by the close relationship between birds and dinosaurs.

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Cousins. Recent discoveries of dinosaur-like birds have helped to better define the evolutionary relationship between these animals. "It would be foolish to start anywhere else, " the Queensland Museum study coordinator Peter Guardian explained to the Guardian, because the birds, or Avian dinosaurs, are indeed extinct dinosaurs.

Theropods and other dinosaurs: the new classification Image An artistic reconstruction of C. juji. A dinosaur with rainbow feathers. | Velizar Simeonovski, The Field Museum, for the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

The discovery of the slowness of the T rex (and of all the theropod dinosaurs) was received with great interest. But understanding the locomotion of the ancient, enormous inhabitants of the Earth does not only stimulate the curiosity of the public. According to Bishop, in fact, it is crucial to answer specific scientific questions.

Scientific curiosity. "The gait of the dinosaurs is important to decipher important elements of their ecology: how they found the food, how the companions sought it, how they avoided becoming food themselves, " Bishop explained. Furthermore, this study could contribute to modeling dinosaur migration and even to clarify if they were warm-blooded.

dinosaurs The reconstruction of a new species of dinosaur-swan, the Halszkaraptor escuilliei. | Lukas Panzarin

Evolution. But for Bishop the interest of this research lies in finding out how dinosaurs evolved into birds. "There have been many changes in the way they move; including flight development ". By studying 12 species of birds, weighing from 45 grams to 80 kg, the researchers have the differences with increasing size and speed, and this has allowed us to create a predictive model to estimate how large saurians walked and ran. The next step will be to test the model with other bird species.