Tuesday, 5 June 2007

T. rex didn't turn on a dime

Tyrannosaurus SkeletonScientists now say that the "Terror of the Cretaceous" may not have been that bad after all. A new study indicates that T. rex had a hard time getting its jaws into fast, agile prey.

An American team of palaeontologists have used detailed computer models to work out the weight of a typical Tyrannosaurus and determine how it ran and turned. The results indicate a 6 to 8-tonne T. rex was unlikely to have topped 40km/h (25mph) and would have taken a few seconds to swivel 45 degrees.

The computer model estimated that a high center of mass and large inertia would have had been responsible for the slow movement and that T. rex could have been out-maneuvered by agile prey.

Dr Paul Barrett, of London's Natural History Museum, commented, "This is another finding that undermines the kind of idea of T. rex as a super-predator. But it has this huge mouth filled with 60-odd, 30cm-long teeth, so it was still a formidable animal."

The research was published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

6 comments:

Laelaps said...

It might be silly, but I've always wondering if T. rex employed something like the ambush-hunting tactics we see in modern crocs. I don't doubt that it scavenged when it could and that its jaws were useful in crunching bone, but I have to wonder if, when going after live prey, it attempted to get close and deliver a fatal, crushing bite rather than running down its prey (which it may not have been able to do, like the paper suggests).

Will Baird said...

Actually, it doesn't seem that silly to me, but not being a paleo type in real life, means I am less than informed.

As much as I am not sure I buy it, perhaps there's somethings to Ward's assertions about the low O2 content. You don't need to be uber-fast if no one is due to oxygen deprivation.

Has anyone done the biomechanics for the hadrosaurs or ceratopsians? Those would seem to be the main prey for the T rex, if I am not mistaken. Just how fast were they?

Mambo-Bob said...

I've never come across a biomechanical study on the locomotion of hadrosaurs and ceratopsians. That would be interesting as my guess would be that they may have very well been slower than T. rex. And T. rex having longer legs than these two may have been able to out-pace them just with the longer stride lengths.

Zach Miller said...

$10 says one of the authors of the study was Hutchingson.

Mambo-Bob said...

Yes, you've won $10! Hutchinson's the lead author.

Zach Miller said...

The man's making a career out of giving T.rex a speed ticket!