NEWS

Watch: Robot reveals how ancient reptile ancestor moved

Scientists use a combination of x-ray video, computer modelling and robotics to reanimate 280-million-year-old fossil.

Search for this author in:

How an animal moves can tell scientists a lot about how it lives. That is how researchers hope to learn more about an ancient crocodile-like creature called Orobates pabsti. Orobates lived before the dinosaurs. It is known as a ‘stem amniote’ — an early offshoot of the lineage that led to ‘amniotes’, namely birds reptiles and mammals. Using 3D scans of an exquisitely preserved Orobates fossil and an associated set of fossilised footprints, researchers built a dynamic simulation. The simulation also incorporates data from extant animals such as lizards and salamanders to constrain the movement. The researchers then tested their simulations in the real world using a scale-sized robot. Bringing Orobates back to life.

Start your own investigation into Orobates movement here.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00186-x
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the daily Nature Briefing email newsletter

Stay up to date with what matters in science and why, handpicked from Nature and other publications worldwide.

Sign Up