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Tyrannosaurus rex would not have been able to outrun a speedy human, research suggests

Restricted by its weight and size, the fearsome predator was more of a jogger than a sprinter

Ian Johnston
Science Correspondent
Tuesday 18 July 2017 17:22
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A T Rex with its smaller and faster cousin the Velociraptor
A T Rex with its smaller and faster cousin the Velociraptor

Anyone who can run 100 metres in 13.3 seconds would have been able to outrun a Tyrannosaurus rex, according to new research.

Contrary to suggestions that the six-tonne predator had a staggering top speed of 72kmh (about 45mph), researchers from Germany and the US found that physical constraints would have prevented it from travelling much faster than about 27kmh (16.8mph).

And a separate study concluded that T Rex would only have been able to move at a fast walk with any attempt to run risking a broken leg. It put the dinosaur’s top speed even lower at about 20kmh (12mph).

Writing in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the researchers concluded that many dinosaurs were relatively ponderous.

A Triceratops would have been able to reach a speed of about 24kmh (15mph), while the 78-tonne Brachiosaurus would have managed less than 12kmh.

A T Rex sets off in pursuit of a jeep in the film Jurassic Park – a chase it would never have won in real life

But the Velociraptor – made famous in the Jurassic Park films – would have been capable of travelling at 54kmh (33.6mph) with the Allosaurus capable of more than 40kmh (25mph), which would have just beaten world-record sprinter Usain Bolt over 100 metres at the peak of his powers.

“Palaeontologists have long debated the potential running speeds of large birds and dinosaurs that roamed past ecosystems,” the researchers wrote in the journal.

“The [models] predict lower speeds for Tyrannosaurus compared with the much smaller Velociraptor.

“This is consistent with theories claiming that Tyrannosaurus was very likely to have been a slow runner.”

The other study, published in the journal PeerJ, concluded running was not physiologically possible for T Rex.

The lead researcher, Professor William Sellers, of Manchester University, said any attempt to do so would probably have broken the legs of a T Rex.

“The running ability of T Rex and other similarly giant dinosaurs has been intensely debated amongst palaeontologist for decades,” he said.

“Here we present a new approach that combines two separate biomechanical techniques to demonstrate that true running gaits would probably lead to unacceptably high skeletal loads in T Rex.”

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