Big tail muscle made dinosaur speedy

Oct. 14, 2011 at 7:29 PM

EDMONTON, Alberta, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A meat-eating dinosaur preying on plant-eating neighbors in South America was a lot faster, and so deadlier, than first thought, a Canadian researcher says.

Scott Persons of the University of Alberta said the 23-foot-long Carnotaurus had a huge tail muscle he believes made it one of the fastest-running hunters of its time.

A close examination of fossil tail bones of Carnotaurus showed its caudofemoralis tail muscle had a tendon that attached to its upper leg bones that pulled the legs backward powerfully to give the carnivore more power and speed in every step, a university release reported Friday.

Using 3-D computer models, Persons determined the tail of Carnotaurus had a series of tall rib-like bones that interlocked with the next pair in line, supporting the huge muscle.

The interlocked structure of the tail did present one drawback: the tail was rigid, making it difficult for the hunter to make quick turns.

However, Persons said, what Carnotaurus gave up in maneuverability it made up for in straight-line speed.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending News
Study details Greenland's ice sheet plumbing system
8 things you didn't know about baby gorillas
Blood test rules out heart attack faster than standard tests
New study details formation of Earth's inner core
Varying walking speeds can help you lose weight