Be honest, every time you have watch Jurassic Park you laugh at the T-Rex’s impotent arms as they flail around hopelessly out of sync with its monstrous body. The delicate little limbs have provoked a lot of mirth, despite the rest of its colossal body instilling horror in those who see it.
However, the pathetically limp arms may not be as useless as we originally thought. In fact, they may even be more dangerous than the T-Rex’s sinisterly sharp teeth…
A T-Rex’s arms are very out of proportion to the rest of their body, measuring a mere one meter in length. Some scholars have attributed their stunted growth to ‘vestigial’, meaning that over years of evolution the frame of a species adapts and changes, losing some of its function.
However, recovered tyrannosaurus rex bones show that these arms would not have been entirely surplus, for they had deep muscle attachment meaning that they would have had alarming strength.
Early in the discovery of the T-Rex, it was thought that the reason for the tiny arms having such strength was to assist with copulation, giving the male limbs in which to hold on to their mating partner – for obvious reasons, they couldn’t use their humungous and razor sharp teeth.
It was also thought that the arms were to help the dinosaur hold down its prey. Much discussion surrounded this theory, but scholars ultimately dismissed it.
Now after decades of careful work, experts believe that they have an explanation for the tiny arms on the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex…
Paleontologist Steven Stanley from the University of Hawaii in Monoa believes that he has cracked the prehistoric code:
“Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T. rex , whether mounted on a victim’s back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a meter or more long and several centimeters deep within a few seconds.”
He continues, to explain that “[The T-Rex] could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession”. He states that because the arms only have two claws, opposed to three, they can exert 50% more strength as it saw them apply more pressure.
Despite this, Stanley does conclude that the T-Rex’s arms would have shrunk during the course of its evolution due to the creatures dependency on its unforgivable jaw.
Meanwhile, Thomas Holtz from the University of Maryland told National Geographic offered his analysis:
“I would expect [the arms] could cause some decent damage if [they] struck, but in order to deploy [the arm], Tyrannosaurus would basically have to push its chest up against the side of the victim.”
Instead he concluded that the tiny arms would have been more useful to the T-Rex in infancy. “The strike zone would be proportionately larger in a young T rex – and going after smaller prey would mean the force required to kill the victim would be less,” he said.
Regardless of the uselessness of the tiny arms, we still wouldn’t want to meet a T-Rex in a dark alley. Their teeth are enough to make anyone, human or animal, run in the opposite direction.
Thanks to Jurassic Park we all know what they’re capable of!
However, if you thought that T-Rex’s were extinct, think again! They live among us in the form of humans in blow up costumes. This particular T-Rex thought it would be amusing to taunt a 500lb alligator. This could be the only time a T-Rex loses a fight…