This iconic “dinosaur death pose” caused early researchers to assume that dinosaurs could bend their neck to such extremity while alive, or wailed in pain during their terminal moments. Nowadays, experts seem to think that post-mortem movements might have been the cause of this pose.
By observing the decomposition of four ostrich cadavers, T. Lingham-Soliar attempted to add to the conversation. His study used principles borrowed from the field of forensic medicine and crime scene investigations. While human’s lack of feathers and other external coatings made their external anatomy relatively simpler than other animals, the same principles are still applicable. The observational result from the birds, considered structurally similar to non-avian dinosaurs, were then compared to the dinosaur Sinosauropteryx.
In the study, four ostrich cadavers retrieved from farm owners were placed in a nature conservancy area to simulate the natural process of decay. The four cadavers were laid down on different substrates: topsoil, hard rocky ground, river sand on the bank of a stream, with the final one partially submerged in a pool. All four cadavers were photographed every morning over a period of five days to observe the changes, alongside other data records such as air temperature and humidity.