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Quantitative biomechanical assessment of locomotor capabilities of the stem archosaur Euparkeria capensis

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Birds and crocodylians are the only remaining members of Archosauria (ruling reptiles) and they exhibit major differences in posture and gait, which are polar opposites in terms of locomotor strategies. Their broader lineages (Avemetatarsalia and Pseudosuchia) evolved a multitude of locomotor modes in the Triassic and Jurassic Periods, including several occurrences of bipedalism. The exact timings and frequencies of bipedal origins within archosaurs, and thus their ancestral capabilities, are contentious. It is often suggested that archosaurs ancestrally exhibited some form of bipedalism. Euparkeria capensis is a central taxon for the investigation of locomotion in archosaurs due to its phylogenetic position and intermediate skeletal morphology, and is argued to be representative of facultative bipedalism in this group. However, no studies to date have biomechanically tested if bipedality was feasible in Eupakeria. Here, we use musculoskeletal models and static simulations in its hindlimb to test the influences of body posture and muscle parameter estimation methods on locomotor potential. Our analyses show that the resulting negative pitching moments around the centre of mass were prohibitive to sustainable bipedality. We conclude that it is unlikely that Euparkeria was facultatively bipedal, and was likely quadrupedal, rendering the inference of ancestral bipedal abilities in Archosauria unlikely.



Archosauria, bipedalism, locomotion, musculoskeletal modelling

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Royal Society Open Science

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The Royal Society
European Research Council (695517)
J.R.H. was supported by funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement 695517)
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