This post is a continuation of Tyrannosaurus Controversies Part 1. The debates about Tyrannosaurus go far beyond feathers and feeding strategies. They include much more obvious and down to Earth issues. As always, feel free to add your comments, questions, or opinions below.
Locomotion: The controversy here revolves around the speed that Tyrannosaurus could have run. While at first seeming to be fairly arbitrary, this is very important to our understanding of the creature. Whether Tyrannosaurus individuals could move at higher speeds could be the key to determining the species’ status as predators or scavengers.
Those who believe Tyrannosaurus could have run point to evidence which ties it to modern birds. Ostriches, known for speed, share similarities with the dinosaur including hollow bones and long legs. While the Ostrich does not make quick movements with its legs, it is able to reach high speeds through longer strides. There is a possibility that Tyrannosaurus could have done the same. Estimates for an individual’s speed vary between these scientists, but are estimated between 25 to 40 mph. They also argue that the metatarsus of the creature was more advanced than those of other dinosaurs, transferring pressure into the lower leg. This would allow an individual to move faster; possibly run.
The argument against the theory above is more practical. Skeptics point out that while there is an abundance of Tyrannosaur (and Theropod) footprints have been found, none have shown significant distance between prints to suggest fast movement. A similar argument was used to disprove the theory that dinosaurs stood upright.
If Tyrannosaurus (or any other dinosaur) walked like this, then why weren’t there tail dragging marks by the footprints? The answer, of course, is that they didn’t drag their tails. Similarly, some paleontologists today believe that the lack of footprints leaves an obvious conclusion to the issue. In addition, estimates in the late 90’s showed that Tyrannosaurus legs may have been no stronger than those of Elephants, which cannot run themselves. Another experiment a couple of years earlier seemed to show that even if the animal could move at speeds over 25 mph, a fall would either kill the animal on impact, or shatter enough bones that it would never get back up.
The debate is one that continues today. There are still no conclusions and further studies are being performed to determine the answer.
The Arms: With a body the weight of six elephants and longer than a school bus, the arms of the monster are just plain hilarious.
But, what were the purpose of such seemingly useless limbs? Despite their small size, they are known to have contained huge muscles and would have been quite strong. One must also remember that size is in context to body mass. In reality, they were up to 3.3 feet long. This has led scientists to a multitude of possible theories. These include, but are not limited to: grasping during sexual intercourse, holding onto prey, and rising from a sleeping position. Some scientists have also suggested that they had no purpose and within another 20 million years would be gone completely from the evolved versions of the species. Whatever the case, its hilarious.