Nina Schaller

ScienceShot: Can Ostriches Tell Us How Dinosaurs Moved?

If you think ostriches' wings are purely ornamental, you've got your head in the sand. New research suggests that the giant birds use their wings as "air rudders" to rapidly change directions while running and to stop quickly. Nina Schaller, a biologist at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, raised ostriches from birth and watched how they used their wings as they wheeled about. Based on her observations, she told fellow biologists today at the Society for Experimental Biology annual meeting in Prague, ostriches use their wings to run more nimbly and efficiently. The same might be true for feathery dinosaurs, like Gigantoraptor and Avimimus. Scientists have usually assumed these dinos used their forelimbs to manipulate objects, but they may have also used them to balance their bodies and zigzag while running.

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