The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the most dangerous predators that ever walked on Earth. It looked terrifying, and of course, big. However, it had tiny and funny-looking arms that were often a subject of jokes. Still, no one had a clue that these disproportionate tiny arms were actually a vicious weapon that this deadly predator used to attack a cornered prey. A new study suggests that T. rex‘s tiny arms were more than just ridiculously-looking limbs.
Steven Stanley from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a paleontologist, published a new paper suggesting that T. rex’s arms have been unfairly represented. According to Stanley, while T. rex’s arms were 3.3 feet long and were quite tiny compared to the rest of this predator’s body, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t used for violent attacking of prey.
The new paper was presented at the annual conference of the Geological Society of America, where Stanley suggested that T. rex’s tiny arms were actually handy when the predator was dealing with prey that wasn’t out of its reach.
Stanley said that despite being small, T. rex’s arms were strong and robust, because of the strong bone structure which not only made up the limbs, but also the predator’s large coracoid. The coracoid is a large paired bone, located in the shoulder, which helped the dinosaur to control its arm movement. Furthermore, the T. rex had only two claws on each forelimb, which contributed to an exertion of up to 50% more pressure in slashing of the prey.
“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,” Stanley said.
“Infliction of damage by slashing was widespread among other theropod taxa, so in light of its formidable weaponry, why should T. rex not have engaged in this activity?”
However, other scientists aren’t so sure of Stanley’s claims.
“I would expect it could cause some decent damage if it struck, but in order to deploy [the arm], Tyrannosaurus would basically have to push its chest up against the side of the victim,” said paleontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland to National Geographic, who wasn’t involved with Stanley’s research.
Although he doesn’t entirely support Stanley’s claim, Holtz admitted that the younger specimens could make use of the T. rex‘s tiny arms slashing maneuver that Stanley is talking about in the published study.
“It might be that the arms were actually more functional in young T. rex, and became reduced to function as it became older,” Holtz told the National Geographic.
“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.”
Anyhow, we are sure that we are going to hear more about the robust structure and vicious strength of T. rex‘s tiny arms in the future. The research was officially presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Seattle, Washington, in October.