One would think that the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex quickly dashed after its prey, further underscoring its reputation as a fearsome carnivorous dinosaur. And if you remember that scene from Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, famously told his driver to “go faster” so that they could avoid getting eaten by the prehistoric beast. But new research suggests T. rex actually walked, albeit at a comparatively quick pace, as its body configuration would have prevented it from going any faster than 12 mph.
According to a report from BBC News, a team of scientists from the University of Manchester in England made use of computer simulations to determine how fast T. rex moved during its prehistoric heyday. If only the dinosaur’s muscles were factored in to the equation, it would have been able to move at a top speed of about 18 mph, but T. rex’s walking speed was reduced to an estimated 12 mph when the researchers factored in its skeletal strength.
All in all, the Cretaceous-era dinosaur would have snapped its legs due to its massive weight had it picked up the pace and sprinted instead of walking briskly as it most likely did.
As University of Manchester professor William Sellers explained, scientists have long debated about the speed at which Tyrannosaurus rex was able to run, as this would have provided insight into how the dinosaur hunted its prey millions of years ago. But based on his team’s findings, the reason T. rex walked was simple — it just didn’t have the skeletal strength to actually run.
“That means that T. rex was actually quite slow and therefore not a pursuit predator,” Sellers commented.
— Murray Maza (@MurrayMaza) July 18, 2017
As USA Today observed, the computer simulation yielded results that show Tyrannosaurus rex walking at close to a fourth of the speed scientists had originally thought as previous theories had suggested that the animal was capable of running as fast as 45 mph.
That also suggests Hollywood may have gotten it all wrong almost two and a half decades ago, when Jurassic Park made dinosaurs a part of pop culture, en route to becoming one of 1993’s biggest films. But in an interview with BBC News, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse researcher Dr. Eric Snively said that T. rex, even if it couldn’t run, would have been a scary dinosaur nonetheless.
Snively, who was not involved in the study, said that T. rex’s walking speed is still faster than the pace in which most “fast human joggers” or distance runners could go. And as far as Jurassic Park is concerned, he believes that a more realistic version of the film’s T. rex would have had a chance at making a meal out of Dr. Ian Malcolm.
“It might well have caught Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, had he stayed outside the Jeep and in the slippery mud.”
Likewise, paleontologist Phillip L. Manning, director of the College of Charleston’s Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, told the Washington Post that a T. rex walking at full speed would still have its wide stride to help it theoretically outpace humans, many of whom “would have difficulty jogging to keep up.”
[Featured Image by Dennis Passa/AP Images]