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March of the titans

Video courtesy W.E. Sellers, et al. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078733.s010)

Approximately 40 meters long and weighing around 80 tonnes, Argentinosaurus is thought to be the largest animal ever to walk on land. Researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, and the National University of Río Negro, Argentina, have now created a model of the giant sauropod dinosaur's movement.

Lead researcher, Bill Sellers, says: "If you want to work out how dinosaurs walked, the best approach is computer simulation. This is the only way of bringing together all the different strands of information we have on this dinosaur, so we can reconstruct how it once moved."

The simulation was carried out using software created by Sellers called GaitSym and was run on the UK's HECToR supercomputer. "We used the equivalent of 30,000 desktop computers to allow Argentinosaurus to take its first steps in over 94 million years," explains Lee Margetts, who also worked on the paper.

The simulation showed that Argentinosaurus could walk at speeds of just over 2 meters per second, which is roughly equal to around 5 miles per hour. The researchers say that their work could be important for understanding more about musculoskeletal systems in other animals and for developing better robots.

The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Read more about the work of Sellers and his colleagues in this recent feature article:

Supercomputers help reveal dinosaur mechanics.

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