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T Rex: The iconic beast takes life at a much more leisurely pace than was thought – despite its long and powerful legs

"T Rex was not a very fast walker."

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

T Rex walked at less than three miles an hour – slower than a human, according to new research.

In a new study, a reconstruction of the tail by palaeobiologist accurately calculated its speed for the first time.

It accounted for more than half the total length of the ‘king of the dinosaur’s‘ – and was vital to its balance.

Palaeobiologist Pasha van Bijlert said: “T Rex was not a very fast walker.”

Mr van Bijlert, a master’s student at Vrije University, Amsterdam, said: “No animal alive today uses a tail in the same way.”

The discovery is based on a combination of step size and the frequency at which the massive appendage vibrated.

He explained:

“If you multiply them you get a walking speed slightly faster than 4.5 kilometers per hour (2.8mph).

“This is a lot slower than if you only look at T Rex’s long legs.”

Bipedals like humans and ostriches tend to walk at 3 to 4 mph (5 to 6.5 kmph).

According to the researcher:

“That’s also not that fast. But they are quite a bit smaller than T Rex.

“So instead you can look at elephants and giraffes. They have got heavy, longer legs. But, really, you find the same walking speed.”

His team built a 3-D model of the tail belonging to Trix – a T Rex specimen whose astonishingly complete remains were dug up by a Dutch team in Montana.

The 43ft (13 meter) long female weighed six tons and lived around 66 million years ago.

Her skeleton is a major attraction at the Natural History Museum in Leiden.

The study showed the key lie in ligaments that ran between each vertebra. Remarkably, they survived fossilization in Trix.

For him:

“They act like rubber bands. They don’t store energy. When stretched, they store it. Releasing them let’s it go.

“The entire tail of T Rex was suspended – at no energy cost. It weighed more than a ton, and was really just a mass – supported by a rubber band!”

When an animal is not running it will move at a pace to expend the least amount of energy.

The palaeobiologist explained:

“It chooses a step frequency, or rhythm, where body parts start to resonate – in this case, the tail.”

It would bounce up and down slightly – at a low frequency well below one – with every step the predator took.

“The wrong rhythm costs a lot of effort for very little result. The correct rhythm provides a lot of movement for very little effort. That’s resonance.”

Opting for the right frequency maximizes tail movements, energy storage, and therefore walking efficiency.

The scientist said:

“It has to be equal to the frequency of the tail at which it will naturally vibrate.”

This was estimated using a biomechanical model. A step length of around six feet was worked out from the trackway of a slightly smaller tyrannosaur that was scaled up.

Mr van Bijlert highlighted:

“Animals tend to walk in ways that minimize energy expenditure, by using the resonance of their body parts.

“While walking, bipedal dinosaurs relied on their tail muscles, but the tail was suspended by spring-like ligaments.

“The tail would sway up and down with each step, and would resonate when stepping in sync with the tail’s natural frequency.”

He further added:

“Its preferred speed was lower than previously thought for such large dinosaurs.”

T Rex’s muscular body could reach more than 40 feet – as big as a school bus – and weigh over 8 tons. Its sharp teeth and jaws would be powerful enough to crush a car.

Its walking speed has been debated for years – with previous estimates of at least 4.5 mph.

The latest study indicates it covered much less ground than the eleven miles a day, and 4,000 a year, suggested.

Mr van Bijlert highlighted:

“Our results for a preferred walking speed of T Rex are lower than previous estimations for large theropods, but more closely match those of a variety of living animals, regardless of gait pattern and body size.”

With all essential bones in place, Trix is among the top three ranking T Rex skeletons in the world. It died on what was then an island continent known as Laramidia.

Soon afterwards, geologically speaking, a city sized space rock smashed into the Gulf of Mexico and wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs – including T rex.

The researchers whose findings are published in prestigious Royal Society journal Open Science now plan to apply the technique to other dinosaurs.

According to him:

“There is a lot you can learn from just a tail.”

In 2017, a study found T Rex could only run at 12 mph – almost three times slower than previously believed.

Any faster, and its bones would have shattered, said the University of Manchester team.

In Jurassic Park, an angry T Rex kept pace with a panicked group of scientists – travelling in a fast moving Jeep.

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