Functional feet

Friday, August 5, 2011

It is of course inevitable that similar features undergoing similar evolutionary pressures will convergently acquire similar form. Here’s a nice example from the theropods. Above is the foot of Tyrannosaurus which is a pretty classic ‘running’ foot.

The metatarsals are compressed into a single main spar (which will add efficiency), and the toes are quite well spread (giving grip and stability). And below we have the foot of a moa. Despite the fact that there’s quite an evolutionary distance between the two, and of course that after the tyrannosaurs came long theropods had kinda become birds and been living in trees and flying for a good few million years before coming back down. But again we see similar adaptations, the metatarsals are now fused fully into a single unit, and the toes are rather well spread out.

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