Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tyrannosaurus Rex Turns Out To Have Been a Slowpoke
T. rex was no slacker. But the popular image of a nimble predator turning on a dime and chasing down prey with lightning speed is fiction, new computer models show.

The terrifying tyrannosaur was actually a slowpoke.

Previous studies have looked at the movements of birds, the direct descendents of dinosaurs, and fossilized footprints to judge how Tyrannosaurus rex would have moved.

To get a better estimate of the giant's movement, the new study modeled a typical complete T. rex skeleton, which probably weighed between about 13,000 and 17,000 pounds, and estimated its center of mass and the inertia, or resistance to movement, that it would have had when the animal turned or pivoted.

Just goes to show, a computer model is a hypothesis to be tested, not an explanation in and of itself.