You won’t find a person who doesn’t know what a T-Rex looks like. They’ll also know that the least intimidating thing about a T-Rex’s image is its tiny seemingly useless arms. But according to a new study, those arms weren’t useless at all. In fact, they were capable of subjecting its prey to „vicious slashing,” a discovery that has baffled scientists in return.
Presented at the annual conference of the Geological Society of America by paleontologist Steven Stanley, the paper suggests the arms of a T-Rex were great at dealing with close range prey. This is the opposite of what popular culture taught us and what scientific consensus was in the past. It also pokes a hole in the assumption that those small limbs were nothing more than a vestigial feature of the dinosaur.
The dinosaur’s ancestors used their limbs for grasping. However, as time passed, their jaws started taking their place, and the arms had to find another task to be useful. Natural selection would decide to render the arms „vicious slashing” weapons.
Stanley points out the unique design of these limbs and the capabilities it allowed:
„Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T. Rex…to inflict four gashes a metre or more long and several centimeters deep within a few seconds.”
The paleontologist emphasizes the speed of these attacks as well as they could have happened in succession. But what is speed in an attack if it’s not accompanied by strength? Besides a robust skeletal structure, Stanley backs up his claim by indicating the dinosaur’s coracoid bone that would allow the T- Rex increased mobility for slashing. The dinosaur also benefited from its two fingers which could exert 50% more pressure when slashing close prey.
The theory has already been met with skepticism by other scientists who claim that the T-Rex would not have been able to extend their short arms without pushing its chest up. University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz acknowledges the issue of length and theorizes their effectiveness in young T-Rex specimens.
Image source: Publicdomainpictures