By Andrew Kao
Scientists have created a robot prehistoric lizard to study how the ancestors of dinosaurs actually walked.
The OroBOT – based on the fossil of an extinct lizard known as ‘Orobates pabsti’ – is helping experts determined to crack the evolution of walking fill in the gaps.
Evolutionary biologist Dr. John Nyakatura, 39, from Humboldt University in Berlin, and his colleagues first attempted to analyse walking patterns using a computer simulation but soon realised they needed a physical replica of the skeleton.
Dr Nyakatura, who published the study this month, said: “This is a key fossil for the understanding of vertebrate evolution.
“There were plenty of challenges, the robot is very abstract in comparison to a real animal- we had to decide which movements to actuate.
“Another problem was scaling, the robot is about 1.4 times as large as the fossil.
“Obviously, we would benefit from better motors, better CT scanning, better control, better everything- our research pretty much is a testament of our current time.
“In a few years, when technology is further advanced, people will look back at it and smile
“We hope that our study will represent one of the first of a currently emerging field with exciting breakthroughs ahead.”