You can let those Jurassic Park scenes of a giant T. Rex chasing you down haunt your nightmares… but not your reality.
In a new research report from scientists at the University of Manchester, they have revealed that perhaps the famous Tyrannosaurus rex couldn't run at all.
The research suggests that the sheer size and weight of T. rex means it couldn’t move at high speed, as its leg-bones would have buckled under its own weight load.
Professor William Sellers, who led the research says the results demonstrate any running gaits for T. rex would probably lead to ‘unacceptably high skeletal loads’. Meaning, in layman’s terms, any running would simply break the dinosaur’s legs. This contradicts the running speeds predicted by previous biomechanical models which can suggest anything up to 45mph.
He explained: "the running ability of T. rex and other similarly giant dinosaurs has been intensely debated amongst palaeontologist for decades. However, different studies using differing methodologies have produced a very wide range of top speed estimates and we say there is a need to develop techniques that can improve these predictions.
‘Here we present a new approach that combines two separate biomechanical techniques to demonstrate that true running gaits would probably lead to unacceptably high skeletal loads in T. rex."
The report reads:
The running ability of Tyrannosaurus rex has been intensively studied due to its relevance to interpretations of feeding behaviour and the biomechanics of scaling in giant predatory dinosaurs. Different studies using differing methodologies have produced a very wide range of top speed estimates and there is therefore a need to develop techniques that can improve these predictions. Here we present a new approach that combines two separate biomechanical techniques (multibody dynamic analysis and skeletal stress analysis) to demonstrate that true running gaits would probably lead to unacceptably high skeletal loads in T. rex.
Combining these two approaches reduces the high-level of uncertainty in previous predictions associated with unknown soft tissue parameters in dinosaurs, and demonstrates that the relatively long limb segments of T. rex—long argued to indicate competent running ability—would actually have mechanically limited this species to walking gaits.
So, the next time you watch a cinematic scene of a T. rex running after Jeff Goldblum, you can imagine the dinosaur walking, instead of sprinting!