A new study shows that the walking speed recorded by the powerful predator of Jurassic Tyrannosaurus Rex was equivalent to what we offer today, around 4.6 kilometers per hour.
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Humans and animals have a preferred speed when walking. This, in part, is affected by the amount of energy required: they prefer to walk at the speed at which they use the least amount of energy possible.
One way to achieve this is to use resonance between speed and the rhythmic movement of the body.
This works well for animals that walk on all fours, and for legged animals such as humans and ostriches.
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Pasha van Bellert, anthropometric student at Vrije University in Amsterdam (VU), applied the idea to an animal that walked differently from anything on Earth now: Tyrannosaurus rex.
Not only did these carnivorous dinosaurs have two feet, but they also had a huge tail that helped them move.
Like the neck bones, the tail bones are connected to each other by ligaments.
“It can be compared to a suspension bridge,” Van Bellaert explains. “A suspension bridge with tons of muscle.” At each step, the tail swings up and down. This means, like oscillation, it has a natural frequency that resonates. “
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To find out this hesitation, Van Bijlert and his professors Anne Schulp (Naturalis / Utrecht University) and Knoek van Soest (VU) built a 3D model of the Trix, the Tyrannosaurus rex displayed at the Dutch National Museum of Natural History.
They added digital muscles to their famous skeleton, and in this muscle model they were able to perform biomechanical analyzes. From these, they derive natural frequency and preferred walking speed: 4.6 km / h (2.9 mph). So when Trix went out for a walk she was walking at roughly the same speed as a human.
Van Bijlert, Van Soest, and Schulp have published their findings in the Royal Society Open Science Journal. “There were actually some studies looking at dinosaur walking speed, but they basically looked at the legs and ignored the tail, which is what makes dinosaurs so unique,” Van Bellert says.
“They generally found walking speeds much higher. The speed we calculated is lower, but similar to other animals.”