A limping dinosaur with a broken wrist may have been too slow to escape predators, scientists said on Tuesday.
A team from Queen's University Belfast studied the single bone — a broken wrist fossil discovered in Russia’s far east — which had some swelling.
Scientists said the bone of the “majestic” 68 million-year-old hadrosaur Amurosaurus riabinini probably survived after the creature was injured in a fall, perhaps while running or jumping.
But they believe the injury, and subsequent limp, is likely to have left it as easy prey, their findings published in Historical Biology say.
The team, led by palaeontologist Dr Filippo Bertozzo, analysed the bone, which was found in a quarry of the city of Blagoveshchensk.
“After detailed examination of the broken bone, we have discovered that it was from the wrist of a dinosaur known as a hadrosaur Amurosaurus riabinini and that the accident most likely happened when the four-footed animal was running or jumping, possibly while roaming the land in search of food and water," he said.
“Against all the odds the dinosaur survived the accident, as we can see that the bone was actually beginning to heal — this suggests that it didn't die immediately.
“However, it is likely that the injury led the animal to limp on three limbs, affecting its chances of escaping from predators.”
Prof Eileen Murphy, deputy head of the school of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's, supervised Dr Bertozzo.
“The study of ancient diseases and injuries, whether in past animals or humans, can provide a huge amount of information about the lives of past individuals,” she said.
“This study has enabled us to learn more about the experience of an injured animal in the period leading up to its death; it serves to remind us that even majestic dinosaurs could have accidents.”
Dr Bertozzo, who carried out the research during his PhD at Queen's, is now based at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science in Brussels.