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'Herbivorous dinosaur had killer kicks'
Sat, 26 Feb 2011 05:06:06 GMT
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Brontomerus (thunder thighs) could deliver a kick nearly three times as powerful as that of similar-sized sauropod dinosaurs.
Fossil hunters have excavated the remains of a lumbering, plant-eating dinosaur whose hips were so impressive they named it "thunder thighs.”

The chunky-legged sauropod roamed the Earth 110m years ago and shared the land with agile, carnivorous raptors that it may have fended off with devastating kicks, reported The Guardian.

Brontomerus mcintoshi could deliver a kick nearly three times as powerful as that from similar-sized sauropods, a weapon that males may also have unleashed on each other when fighting over females in the early Cretaceous, researchers said.

"It may be that males lined up next to each other, side by side, and kicked the crap out of each other," said Mike Taylor, a paleontologist and lead author on the study at University College London.

"Brontomerus" means "thunder thighs", while "mcintoshi" is in honor of John McIntosh, a retired US physicist, dinosaur hobbyist and world authority on sauropods.

Bones, including a hip bone, a shoulder blade and a rib, belonging to an adult and a juvenile
were unearthed at a quarry near the Colorado river in Grand County, Utah, in 1994, but paleontologists had failed to appreciate their significance.

The adult was as tall as an elephant, weighed around six tonnes, and measured 14 meters from nose to tail. The juvenile was 4.5 meters long and weighed approximately 200kg. They may have been a mother and her young.

The dinosaur earns its nickname from a sturdy bone plate that projects forwards from the hip bone and provides an anchor point for the beast's substantial leg muscles. In Brontomerus, this bone is between 31% and 55% longer than the same bone in other sauropods.

Details of the discovery are reported in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

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