Remember the scene from the movie Jurassic Park when the T. Rex chases the protagonists from a running jeep? Well, we might consider it truly fictional and very false as such dinosaur aren't necessarily built for running that fast.
The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, contrary to popular belief, actually runs quite slow ranging from 12 to 17 miles per hour. Moving any faster would even shatter its bones! This contention is based from the data of two separate studies published in the journals Nature Ecology & Evolution and PeerJ, T. rex.
Paleontologist William Sellers from the University of Manchester's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the lead author of the PeerJ study, together with his team, made a computer simulation that combined multi-body dynamics simulations, machine learning algorithms, and skeletal stress analysis to make "the most anatomically complete reconstructions" of T. rex movement.
They said that these huge carnivores would weigh as much as nine tonnes or 18,000 pounds and their gait would only reach only up to 12 miles per hour. With this, how they hunt prey would also be different from what we see in the movies.
"T. rex had to eat and these results suggest it couldn't catch fast-running prey by chasing it down," Sellers told Motherboard. Instead, the T. rex may have targeted slow moving dinosaurs like Hadrosaurus or used ambush tactics to catch smaller animals.
In connection to this, the Nature Ecology study has generated a scaling model that explains why large size in animals is a trade-off for lower speeds. Zoologist Myriam Hirt at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig who lead the Nature Ecology study, and her colleagues suggested that the T. rex would topped out around 17 miles per hour.
“The movie image of T. rex is wrong,” says paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the study. “Paleontologists have realized this for over a decade now, and this new study drives it home by providing the most sophisticated computer modeling studies yet.”
“[There's] no way T. rex could have chased down that Jeep in Jurassic Park if it was going at highway speeds,” he says. “Maybe if it was in first gear, but even that's a big if."
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