History’s scariest speed-walker?
After years of dispute palaeontologists from the University of Manchester have finally answered the debate as to the true land speed of one of the most illustrious and feared predators of all time, the T. Rex.
Whilst previous biomechanical models and scientific research insinuated that the dinosaur could reach speeds of approximately 45mph the new research published in the biomedical sciences journal PeerJ quashes this theory and has shown that the colossal Tyrannosaurus rex was far slower in reality, and may have only been able to rack up a speed-walk at best rather than a sprint...
The news has come at the dismay of T. Rex fans, and enthusiasts of Steven Spielberg famous Jurassic Park films as the news means that the indomitable prehistoric creature could probably be outrun by most humans, which somewhat takes away from the image of the ‘king of the tyrant lizard’ being one of the most formidable hunting predators of all time.
It also means that the famous string of films were factually inaccurate; meaning that a re-think for any future feature hits might be in order. It certainly disproves one of Hollywood’s most renowned and loved edge of your seat dinosaur scenes that see’s the fearsome T. Rex involved in a high speed 4x4 chase with Dr Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum.
Palaeontologist William Sellers and his colleagues have comprehensively assessed the apex predator’s model through multibody dynamic analysis (MBDA) and skeletal stress analysis (SSA) using N8 High Performance Computing (HPC) to determine its true gait. The findings show that due to bone properties and the stress that weight can put on such bones it would have been impossible for the T. Rex to reach speeds previously discussed. The study concludes that the sheer weight of the dinosaur would result in ‘unacceptably high skeletal loads’ and that running would undoubtedly break the leg and foot bones of the animal.
With the T. Rex now given a new land speed estimate of just 12 miles per hour, this means that the scientists are now sure that the dino was not a pursuit predator, and has also thrown into doubt the running abilities and hunting techniques of other prehistoricdinosaurs including the Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus, and Acrocanthosaurus.
Dr Sellers who lead the investigation commented that ‘[the] Tyrannosaurus rex is one of the largest bipedal animals to have ever evolved and walked the earth. So it represents a useful model for understanding the biomechanics of other similar animals. Therefore, these finding may well translate to other long-limbed giants, but this idea should be tested alongside experimental validation work on other bipedal species.’
With scientists now going back to the drawing board on how the T. Rex did hunt, other options are being considered such as being an ambush predator, or even a scavenger.
One thing is for sure, though, 12 mph or not the T.Rex is still a pretty fearsome creature, even if they were a little more sluggish than we may have first thought…