European researchers have animated a prehistoric four-legged creature that lived off the dinosaurs by examining its gait and creating a robotic model that can commit the Earth like the prototype 280 million years ago.

The model is the result of a thorough research by a multidisciplinary team led by John Nyakatura from the Humboldt University in Berlin, which published a paper on the reverse engineering of the tribe name Orobates pabsti in the journal Nature.

The task was made possible by the fully preserved skeleton and the fossils of its tracks. The scientists scanned the skeleton in three dimensions and developed a digital 3D model that could be animated.

However, it was not enough to determine how the creature moved, as it depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of cartilage, the angle at which it can flex its spine, and other parameters. The scientists tried to determine a range of motion for each joint and "forced" the digital model to follow in the footsteps.

To make the simulation more precise, the researchers filmed the passage of modern species such as the iguana and the cayman, and defined four key parameters: power, balance, precision, and ground reaction force.

While these manipulations severely limited the possibilities of how the Amniote moved in the environment, the computer model did not consider gravity and other physical limitations.

The researchers went one step further and developed a dynamic simulation model called OroBot.

By seeing OroBot in action, they were able to confirm their predictions, which contradicted some of the earlier hypotheses. For example, researchers today believe that the prehistoric lizard "had more advanced locomotion than previously assumed in previous tetrapods," or in other words, could move farther away from the water than previously thought.

While the model is as accurate as possible given the limited data available, the exact parameters such as the amount of cartilage or energy used to move the prehistoric lizard are unknown.

Therefore, paleontologists have set up a website where you can play with parameters and crawl or lizard up the lizard.

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