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That Time When Scientists Put a Fake Tail on a Chicken and Watched It Walk Like a Dinosaur


Scientists have never seen a dinosaur walk before, you know, due to the fact that they're extinct, but they recently did the next best thing. They outfitted a chicken with a prosthetic tail.

Cue the 1987 single "Walk the Dinosaur"  by the group Was (Not Was).

Researchers at the Universidad de Chile recreated the posture and walking technique of bipedal dinosaurs, or those that walked on two legs, using a chicken.

"Birds still share many traits with their dinosaur ancestors, making them the best living group to reconstruct certain aspects of non-avian theropod biology," the author's wrote.

Schematics for how the experiment was conducted. (Image source: Grossi et al.) Schematics for how the experiment was conducted. (Image source: Grossi et al.)

By attaching an artificial tail, the researchers changed the bird's center of mass, which as a result "showed a more vertical orientation of the femur during standing and increased femoral displacement during locomotion."

Watch the control versus experimental subject in this video of the research:

To the scientist this supports that gradual changes in the animal's center of mass is what created the "more crouched hindlimb postures" we see in birds today.

"This study suggests that, through careful experimental manipulations during the growth phase of ontogeny, extant birds can potentially be used to gain important insights into previously unexplored aspects of bipedal non-avian theropod locomotion," they wrote, countering previous suggestions that mammals be used to study this topic instead.

Their research was published in the journal PLOS One.

Gif via Popular Science.

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