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New theory from Alberta researchers for why some dinosaurs stood on 2 feet

A skeleton of the proto-dinosaur Marasuchus, is shown in this undated handout photo.
A skeleton of the proto-dinosaur Marasuchus, is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Scott Persons, University of Alberta

Paleontologists at the University of Alberta have a new theory for why some dinosaurs stood on two feet instead of four.

The researchers found clues in the tails of the ancient creatures’ much smaller ancestors, proto-dinosaurs.

READ MORE: Edmonton researchers help make Jurassic Park-like dinosaur discovery

Lead author Scott Persons said the tails of proto-dinosaurs had big, leg-powering muscles.

Eventually, the ancient creatures evolved to run faster and for longer distances.

READ MORE: Feathered dinosaurs may have ‘flocked’ together like modern birds: University of Alberta study

Meanwhile, smaller forelimbs helped reduce their body weight and improved balance, so some proto-dinosaurs gave up walking on all fours entirely.

Persons said earlier theories that proto-dinosaurs stood on two legs just so they could use their forelimbs to catch prey don’t stand up.

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Watch below: Travel Alberta ambassador and blogger Mike Morrison joins Global Calgary with details on some of the many places to see and learn about dinosaurs in the province.

Click to play video 'Alberta Bound: learning about dinosaurs' Alberta Bound: learning about dinosaurs
Alberta Bound: learning about dinosaurs – Jul 21, 2016