Fossil remains of an athletic sauropod with a potentially mighty kick found in eastern Utah offer a rare bounty of clues into how four-legged herbivores thrived, according to a new study of the discovery.
The results, published this week in the British journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, show that an unusually large hip bone compared to other sauropods could mean that the Brontomerus Mcintoshi had powerful hind legs to kick away predators, such as raptors.
“This is a very exciting discovery, because a majority of sauropods were known to have lived during the Jurassic period, but these fossils show us that they lived well into the early Cretacious period,” said Mathew Wedel, an assistant professor of anatomy at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif.
The fossils were excavated by American scientists in the mid-1990s.
*correction: Jim Kirkland is the state paleontologist for the Utah Geological Survey.