Senckenbergiana lethaea

, 82:35

The Tyrannosaurid metatarsus: Bone strain and inferred ligament function

  • Eric Snively
  • Anthony Russell
Functional Morphology and Biomechanics

DOI: 10.1007/BF03043771

Cite this article as:
Snively, E. & Russell, A. Senckenbergiana lethaea (2002) 82: 35. doi:10.1007/BF03043771


Tyrannosaurid dinosaurs possess a metatarsus with an arctometatarsalian proximal constriction of metatarsal III, and strongly interlocking proximal articulations. Bone and inferred ligament morphologies are suggestive of modes of locomotor energy transmission. CT scanning and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) ofGorgosaurus libratus metatarsals test two hypotheses of tyrannosaurid arctometatarsus function: ligaments mediated transfer of energy from the central metatarsal to the outer elements, and ligaments arrested anterodorsal rotation of the distal portion of the central metatarsal. The results have implications for the use of FEA in functional morphology: 1) strain artifacts are identifiable under low-resolution modeling, but higher resolution is better; and 2) bone strain aids in testing hypotheses of ligament function. Concentrations of bone strain energy under postulated loading regimes forGorgosaurus support the hypothesis of axial energy transmission for the tyrannosaurid metatarsus, and indirectly support the rotation damping hypothesis. Palaeopathology provides a vital complement to engineering tests of these hypotheses.

Key words

Tyrannosauridae functional morphology locomotion finite element metatarsus ligament paleopathology 

Copyright information

© E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Snively
    • 1
  • Anthony Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Vertebrate Morphology and Palaeontology Research Group. Department of Biological SciencesThe University of CalgaryCalgary AlbertaCanada

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