The La Rioja region of Spain was apparently home to the fastest moving dinosaurs who ever lived
According to a recent study, some of the fastest species of dinosaurs on earth inhabited the region of Spain that is currently occupied by the Riojan community.
Pablo Navarro, a researcher at the University of La Rioja, had his study published in the journal Scientific Reports. In his study, he details some species of theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs of two legs). From the analysis of their fossilised tracks, Navarro established that these creatures could run at an approximate speed of 45km/h.
That is one of the fastest speeds ever calculated to date for dinosaurs. Their footprints had been located in two deposits located in the La Rioja village of Igea. They date from the Lower Cretaceous period, between 145 and 100 million years ago.
One of the trails – called La Torre 6A – contains five tracks and the other – La Torre 6B – has seven, all of them three-toed, and longer than they are wide. According to Navarro, it is “very unusual” to find the tracks of such a fast race, because, despite the fact that there are many tracks worldwide, those of this type are “very rare”.
He pointed out that these prints were discovered in an environment with muddy ground, which “surely was not the most suitable for running”.
“Although it is not possible to exactly determine the species that left them, we believe that they were made by carnivorous dinosaurs of medium size, about 2 metres in height, and between 4 and 5 metres in length. Possibly from the family of spinosaurids, or carcharodontosaurids“, Navarro explained.
By analysing the angles and distances between the tracks, the researchers calculated that one of the dinosaurs ran at a speed of between 23.4 and 37.1km/h. The other one moved even faster, between 31.7 and 44.6km/h. Navarro pointed out that this latest figure is among the top three estimated speeds for theropods worldwide.
In addition to a high speed, this research has confirmed the agility of these dinosaurs. One of the tracks shows a smooth and constant increase in speed, while the other shows a sudden change of direction. The researchers interpreted this as evidence that the animal manoeuvred while running.
Navarro elaborated that these data corroborate studies carried out in recent decades through the analysis of bone remains, and the use of biomechanics. This was achieved after taking field photographs to which three-dimensional models were applied.
Scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of the Basque Country, the National University of Rio Negro in Argentina, and the Paleontological Interpretation Centre of La Rioja, all collaborated in this research, as reported by 20minutos.