Feet And Footprints

Dinosaurs' feet and legs were tremendously varied. Most of the large, four-legged plant-eaters had sturdy limbs and broad feet like an elephant's. Two-legged dinosaurs had long, birdlike feet and three toes, tipped with sharp claws or hooflike nails. Four-legged dinosaurs usually plodded along, but some two-legged dinosaurs were as fast as a horse. Scientists can tell how quickly a dinosaur moved by comparing it with mammals or birds of today with similar bone structure, or by studying dinosaur footprints. Tracks left in mud that later turned to rock offer valuable clues about the speed and motion of these animals.

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Big theropods like Tyrannosaurus made big, birdlike footprints.

Big theropods like Tyrannosaurus made big, birdlike footprints.

Hadrosaurs made large, rounded three-toed footprints.

Hadrosaurs made large, rounded three-toed footprints.

Sauropods made huge back-foot prints and smaller front-foot prints.
Ceratopsians made smaller double prints than those of sauropods.

Armored dinosaurs made double prints with clear toe marks.

Ankle joint

Armored dinosaurs made double prints with clear toe marks.

Making tracks

Dinosaur footprints have been found all over the world. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to tell which dinosaurs made them; but we can make an educated guess by comparing their shape with fossil foot bones. In some places there are parallel rows of prints, showing where a herd walked side by side. Some tracks even show footprints of flesh-eating dinosaurs overlapping plant-eaters' prints - perhaps evidence of a hunt.

Tyrannosaurus

Imagine a chicken leg grotesquely magnified and you get some idea of Tyrannosaurus's hindleg. Like modern birds, flesh-eating dinosaurs had long-shinned, scaly legs, each with three long, forward-pointing, claw-tipped toes. Another toe did not touch the ground but was set off to one side; in birds the same toe faces backward. Tyrannosaurus's / legs were incredibly sturdy. The huge, pillarlike

Claw/ leg bones had to carry the weight of a 6-ton body.

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