Research objectives and content
The Dromaeosauridae, known largely from North America and Mongolia, were small- and medium-sized dinosaurs, characterised by slender long limbs, elongate stiffened tail, and a substantial slashing claw. Birds probably arose from Dromaeosauridae, but their relationships to other dinosaurs are disputed. In addition, modes of life are debated: scenarios include active pack hunting and balancing on one leg while slashing with the other. This project will focus on anatomical and biomechanical aspects of dromaeosaurids. We have access to a superb new dromaeosaurid specimen from Italy, nearly complete and including preserved soft parts. We have also negotiated access to North American and Mongolian specimens. The project will involve innovative techniques of anatomical analysis, biological and chemical study of soft parts, computerised phylogenetic analysis, and simple biomechanical modelling, to test dromaeosaurid skeletons for bone strength, running speeds and styles, balance and slashing, and other aspects of locomotion.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The project will extend my knowledge of dinosaur anatomy, systematics and biomechanics. New computing skills will be acquired. This will provide a training for a variety of research and applied scientific careers in systematic biology, palaeobiology, or computing.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The computer work in systematics and biomechanics may lead to software developments of interest to other researchers in academia and in industry.