Dinosaurs were ruthless and efficient predators, behemoths of unimaginable size and, according to the latest findings by an Alberta researcher, could do a mean doggy paddle.

A study released Monday by the University of Alberta shows that two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs could move across the water by paddling.

U of A paleontologist Scott Persons, as part of an international team, made the find in China’s Szechuan Province.

Persons said that claw scratches, along what in prehistoric times was likely a river bed, are some of the strongest proof ancient predators were able to coordinate limb movement to propel them along the water.

dinosaurs in the water alberta research

“The dinosaur’s claw marks show it was swimming along in this river and just its tiptoes were touching bottom,” said Persons.

Persons, and his colleagues from the Szechuan Province fossil site, will further analyze the area to determine just how effective the dinosaurs were at swimming, in the hopes that it will yield evidence related to today’s animals.

Learning how and why dinosaurs did what they did opens the door to greater knowledge about animals today and ourselves, said Persons.

“From dinosaurs we’ve learned about colour vision in some of today’s animals, and the ancient animals are linked to the evolution of other life we take for granted, like birds and flowering plants," he said.

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  • Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs mating. (Jose Antonio Penas, Science Photo Library)

  • Sauroposeidon dinosaurs mating. (Jose Antonio Penas, Science Photo Library)

  • Pentaceratops dinosaurs mating. (Jose Antonio Penas, Science Photo Library)

  • (Sandy Fritz / Ron Embleton / Omni Magazine)

  • (Sandy Fritz / Ron Embleton / Omni Magazine)

  • Wikimedia Commons/Mario modesto

“Want to know why our pet dogs or livestock have limited colour vision? It’s because early mammals sacrificed cones for rods in their eyes so they could see better in the dark and better avoid dinosaurs," added Persons.

“Want to understand the widespread success of modern flowering plants? Well, they evolved under the selective pressures of herbivorous dinosaurs.

“Want to know where birds come from? Dinosaurs.”

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