Tyrannosaurus rex walked surprisingly slowly, new study finds – Boston News, Weather, Sports
(CNN) – The Tyrannosaurus rex was a formidable predator, but that’s for sure was not a particularly fast mover. In fact, most humans could easily follow the dinosaur without breaking a sweat.
T. rex reportedly traveled just under 3 miles in an hour – a speed similar to that of humans and many other animals – at its preferred walking speed, according to new calculations by Dutch paleontologists. However, this pace is slower than other estimates of the Tyrant Lizard King’s walking speed.
When there is no reason for them to run, most animals – including humans – have a natural walking speed that minimizes the amount of body energy expended.
Previous estimates had not fully taken into account the role of the T. rex’s tail – which is more than half of its length – when analyzing the numbers, said Pasha van Bijlert, manager. author of a new study on the locomotion of T. rex published Tuesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
“Animals tend to prefer walking speeds at which, for a given distance, the energy cost is minimal. They do this by choosing specific step rhythms that their body parts resonate with. Since the entire tail of T. rex is suspended by ligaments, which behave like rubber bands, we reconstructed this tail to determine how quickly the tail of T. rex would resonate, ”said van Bijlert, a graduate student. in paleo-biomechanics. to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, by e-mail.
“The entire tail, from our reconstruction at nearly 1,000 kilos, was actually just a mass held up by a rubber band and with each step it bounced slightly up and down. With the right pace, you get a lot of movement for very little effort.
The research team calculated a step rhythm from a computer model of a T. rex tail, based on Trix, an adult T. rex fossil 12 meters long (39 feet long) at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, a natural history museum and research center in the Netherlands. The scientists then multiplied the pace of steps by the length of steps found in the fossilized tracks for an estimated base walking speed of 2.86 miles per hour.
Other methods, van Bijlert said, focus primarily on calculations based on the legs and hips. They certainly play a crucial role in the estimates, but calculations based only on these parts of the dinosaur’s anatomy can lead to errors. results. This is because T. rex and many other dinosaurs had unique tails that are not found with any other living animal today.
Similar to the walking speed of animals today
Understanding how a large predator like T. rex moved can help paleontologists better understand dinosaur behavior and ancient ecosystems, by answering questions such as: How much food did it need to move this huge body at this speed? How far would it have been necessary to find prey?
For example, a T. rex would use his preferred walking speed while walking towards a water source, van Bijlert said. “It can also give you an idea of the types of distances it can cover when foraging.”
He did not estimate the maximum speed of the T. rex in this research, but plans to do so using the same method in the future.
Other studies investigated the dinosaur’s running abilities and suggested that it could have a top speed of between 12 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour) and 18 miles per hour (29 kilometers per hour) – faster and the bones may have broken.
John Hutchinson, professor of evolutionary biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in London, said the role played by tails has been a neglected topic in studies of dinosaur locomotion.
“How fast giant tyrannosaurs would normally have walked hasn’t been a big question for many studies, but it’s still an interesting question. The approach used here is complementary to more sophisticated muscle simulation studies and, in a way, to fossil fingerprint data, ”he said in an email.
“This study covers new ground in an intelligent way with an original model. It is interesting and it would be useful to integrate and compare with other approaches in the future. “
What surprised van Bijlert most about the research was that the walking speed of the T. rex the team found was similar to that of a diverse range of animals living today.
“Humans, ostriches, horses, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest and gazelles all have a remarkably narrow distribution at preferred speeds (around 2.2 to 3.1 mph). So that includes both two-legged and four-legged animals, as well as relatively small and large animals, ”he said via email.
“What’s interesting is that our new method predicts slower walking speeds for T. rex than the other methods, but the speed we find is closer to that of many animals living today.”
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