You could have probably joined a T-rex on a leisurely stroll in Jurassic Park3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Have you seen this terrifying clip from the Jurassic Park movies yet? Here, get ready to be petrified.
So we have good news and bad news. The good news is that if dinosaurs magically came back to life, you would be able to walk with them. Yup, scientists have found that T-Rex’s normal walking speed was not different from the average human’s! Yup, you and a T-rex could go on a leisurely jungle stroll together. The only condition is that the T-Rex would have to want to be leisurely.
On the other hand, if the deadly predator were to decide that it wanted to chase you down and hunt you…well, let’s just say even Usain Bolt would need a miracle. Turns out that if T-Rex’s chose to run and gobble you down, the very mechanism that allowed it to be leisurely also helped it run faster than we ever imagined! So how did scientists figure all this out? Let’s find out.
Before you get on with it, here are a few facts about the T-rex:
No reason to run
When we have no reason to run, humans and animals have a natural walking speed. Judging by the massive size and fearsome nature of the deadly T-Rex, scientists assumed that its walking speed was a lot quicker than what we see among large animals today. But new research has shown that the T-Rex probably walked around at the pace of about 3 miles per hour. A speed that you could keep up with without even breaking a sweat!
Owliver’s Activity: Can you figure out how fast you walk? tell us how you did it in the comments below.
The bouncy tail
So, how did scientists come to this odd realisation? Well, they took a good look at the tail of the T-Rex. Usually, when scientists studied the walking speed of the T-rex, they would only look at its long legs and ginormous size. However, they continuously ignored one key feature that was unique to the T-Rex: its bouncy tail. The tail of the T-Rex, unlike those of modern animals, played a significant role in the movement of the creature.
The tail of the T-rex was attached to the back of the animal, like an elastic band. It would bounce up and down as the giant moved and at some point, it would reach a state of natural frequency. That is the point at which the bounce of the tail was such that it would use up the least amount of the T-rex’s energy just to bounce about.
Scientists made a 3D model of the skeleton of a T-Rex and found this natural frequency or rhythm at which its tail bounced without using up too much energy. Then, they calculated the speed at which the T-Rex must have walked for its tail to bounce at that speed and voila! They have the leisurely pace at which you and your T-Rex could walk around the planet. Oh! the miracles of science.