Many suppositions about theropod locomotion were originally inferred on the basis of leg lengths and other adaptations evident in their appendicular skeletons. Additionally, a vast amount of evidence for theropod movement comes from their most abundant fossil record - tracks. Indeed, applications of formulas used for calculating theropod speeds, based on footprint length, stride length, and some predetermined parameters (Eqns 14.3 to 14.7), support the hypothesis that they were the swiftest of dinosaurs. In a few cases, they apparently approached velocities of 40 km/hour. Of course, running trackways are rare because, like most animals both ancient and modern, theropods probably conserved energy and spent much of their active time simply walking.

How fast could large theropods move? This was the subject of a study that examined possible consequences of their clumsiness during high speeds. Two researchers, one a paleontologist and the other a physicist, asked the simple question, "What would have happened to a Tyrannosaurus if it had been running, then tripped and fell?" Part of the answer to that question can be demonstrated through

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