Scientists from the University of Bristol and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) used three-dimensional computer modelling to investigate the hindlimb of Euparkeria capensis-a small reptile that lived in the Triassic Period 245 million years ago-and inferred that it had a “mosaic” of functions in locomotion.
The study, which was published today in Scientific Reports, was led by researcher Oliver Demuth, joined by Professors Emily Rayfield (Bristol) and John Hutchinson (RVC). Their new micro-computed tomography scans of multiple specimens revealed unprecedented information about the previously hidden shape of the hip bones and structure of the foot and ankle joint.
Euparkeria has been known from numerous fossil specimens since the early 1900s and was found to be a close relative of the last common ancestor of both crocodiles and birds. While birds and crocodiles show different locomotion strategies, two-legged birds with an upright (erect) posture, shared with two and four-legged dinosaurs,