Fear­some T-rex was a plod­der, not a sprinter, re­searchers say

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Line up Usain Bolt at the start­ing blocks with a Tyran­nosaurus rex and the di­nosaur would be left be­hind in the sprinter’s dust, ac­cord­ing to com­put­eras­sisted re­search that turns long-held as­sump­tions on their head. While the run­ning abil­ity of T-rex has been hotly de­bated among palaeon­tol­o­gists for decades, the con­sen­sus from pre­vi­ous biome­chan­i­cal mod­els was that the Cre­ta­ceous-era car­ni­vore could man­age speeds of up to 45 mph (75 kmh). That’s more than half as fast again as the quick­est man in his­tory. But be­cause of its size and weight, the preda­tor would ac­tu­ally have bro­ken its legs had it tried to break into a sprint, the Univer­sity of Manch­ester re­search showed.

“The mus­cles need to be able to gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient power to al­low high-speed lo­co­mo­tion, but at the same time the skele­ton has to be able to cope with the loads gen­er­ated by the high speed,” said Pro­fes­sor Wil­liam Sell­ers from the univer­sity’s School of Earth and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences “...This is where it fails. T-rex’s skele­ton is sim­ply not strong enough for run­ning lo­co­mo­tion,” he told Reuters.

Re­searchers used an engi­neer­ing tech­nique called multi­body dy­namic anal­y­sis, cou­pled with ma­chine learn­ing, to pro­duce what they say is the most ac­cu­rate sim­u­la­tion of T-rex’s gait and biome­chan­ics to date. They con­cluded that T-rex was limited to walk­ing speeds of about 5 me­ters/sec­ond, equat­ing to 12 mph (18 kmh) — less than half the speed of Usain Bolt’s per­sonal best of 27.8 mph.

A study pub­lished in Royal So­ci­ety jour­nal Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences in 2007 sug­gested an at that time conservative top speed of 18 mph - still fast enough to chase down top run­ners over longer dis­tances. Sell­ers said his study had forced a re-think on how T-rex caught its prey. “It cer­tainly would not have been able to chase down faster-mov­ing prey an­i­mals,” said Sell­ers. “That leaves other hunt­ing op­tions such as am­bush, and of course it means that (dis­cred­ited) ideas such as ‘T-rex the scav­enger’ have to be re­con­sid­ered.” —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.