The little arms of tyrannosaurus rex They are a classic meme. It is not for less, because it is quite funny to see what is designed as one of the most ferocious dinosaurs in history with some small front legs. But in nature almost everything has its reason. Maybe tyrannosaurus evolved that way because those little arms served a purpose. For this reason, paleontologists have long been trying to find an explanation. The most recent is one that suggests it might just be a form of prevent their own peers from biting them as they gathered in groups to devour their prey.
In fact, if we visualize what those binges might look like, it all makes a lot of sense. Various colossal animals, from 4 meters high, 13 meters long and weighing 6 tons, with powerful jaws, leaping on the same prey. They probably wouldn’t be too careful, or take turns, so they’d destroy anything that fell into their jaws. If you accidentally (or not so accidentally) fall into a partner’s paw, bad luck.
It is important to note that this it’s just a guess and that in reality we will never know with certainty why the weapons of the tyrannosaurus rex. However, in the study just published in Acta Paleontologica Poland The reasons why the previous hypotheses make less sense than this one are also discussed. More evidence should be sought; but for now, given what has been seen, the option of avoiding being devoured by one’s own companions makes a lot of sense.
Previous hypotheses about the arms of the tyrannosaurus rex
According to the fossil record, a tyrannosaurus rex of some 13-14 meters in length and a skull that can exceed 1.5 meters in length would have front legs of approx. one meter long. As the study authors explained in scientific alertwould be the equivalent of a being 1.80 meter human and 12 centimeter arm. The difference is that we humans use our weapons wisely. Are the front legs of tyrannosaurs a vestige what is useless? Let’s not exaggerate either. In fact, there must be some point in them being so short, otherwise they might not have evolved to this point, so different from what happens with other dinosaurs.
Many hypotheses have been floated. For example, whether it is a form of compensate for the heavy weight of his head and neck reducing the mass of a much less strained part of the body. There have also been scientists who have opined that it may have reproductive purposes, so the males cling to the females during sex. However, the fact that the small arms are short does not mean that they are not well endowed, with powerful claws, so in this take the couple could have been injured.
Precisely because of the presence of these claws, in 2017 other scientists believed that the short front legs would allow much more precise and faster cuts to their prey. Four cuts per meter or more of length and several centimeters in depth could be inflicted in seconds.
However, all this fades into the background if we take into account that, according to the fossils studied in the study just published, the small arms of the tyrannosaurus rex they were very weak. He wouldn’t have the strength to latch onto the female during sex, nor strategically cut his prey. Therefore, these scientists thought that more than a weapon, their short legs could be a shield for these dinosaurs.
An alternative explanation
The authors of this new study, University of Californiabelieve that the short legs of the tyrannosaurus rex they could just be a way to protect themselves.
The front legs were practically not used for hunting. Therefore, having them with a length proportional to their body would have been more awkward than anything else. Especially when they fed in groups. However, to know this with more certainty, we would have to verify one thing that they could not analyze in their study. What area of the body has more teeth marks than your peers?
In their study, they analyzed a single fossil specimen, the MOR 555. Although the skeleton is almost complete, it is still a single dinosaur. Few conclusions can be drawn. But if more fossils of tyrannosaurus rex you could see which bones have more teeth marks maybe caused by dinosaurs of the same characteristics. If the front legs were less damaged in this regard, that would mean that their short length had indeed been beneficial. And it is that, no matter how small the wound, the infections could have been very expensive.
So let’s think about that the next time we make fun of her little arms. They may seem ridiculous, yes, but maybe they were used to devour their victims in groups without falling into the terrible jaws of their companions. It already looks a lot more menacing.