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How Fast Can a Tyrannosaurus Rex Run? What We Know From Fossils

The Tyrannosaurus rex pictured in Jurassic Park is the ultimate image of a villainous dinosaur — scary physical features, massive stature, and excellent hunting habits. They also portrayed these dinosaurs as fast-running species, which is generous because they have seemingly heavy bodies. What do paleontologists think of this? It makes me wonder if a T. Rex was chasing prey, how fast can a Tyrannosaurus rex run? 

In general, scientists claim speeds varying from 0 mph (claiming they cannot run) to reaching speeds of 5 to 11 meters per second, or about 15 to 25 miles per hour. Scientists have conducted studies on the running ability and speed of the T. Rex based on fossil skeletons and biomechanics. 

This article tells you everything you should know about how fast a Tyrannosaurus rex can run. This article also sheds light on how the scientists have posited two different theories about the speeds of the T.rex and what methods they used in supporting their arguments. 

This article also compares how the T.rex and the velociraptors have fared against each other in terms of speeds. 

Last but not least, this article discusses how the speed of the T.rex contributed to its reputation as a voracious predator.

How Fast Can A T. Rex Run in mph, And How Do Scientists Know About This?

This section discusses the fast facts — pun intended — on the speeds of the T.rex and how scientists have arrived at those conclusions, as scientists debate how fast or slow these dinosaurs run.

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Some Scientists Think T. Rex Runs Fast

For years, scientists have debated the speed of dinosaurs. Assessments of dinosaur velocities vary because they are calculated using a variety of methodologies. (Source)

Comparing dinosaur speed to documented speeds of current animals of comparable body size and structure, calculating ranges between fossil footprints in a roadbed, and utilizing these lengths to determine estimated speed, are the two primary techniques for determining dinosaur speed.

YouTube Video About Whether You Could Outrun a T. Rex With Paleontologist David Hone

The YouTube video by The Royal Institution discusses the foot structure of the T. Rex and how it was made for long-distance running. An excellent video presentation by David Hone – AdventureDinosaurs

Scientists may now build virtual replicas of creatures using contemporary computer technologies, offering fresh insights into the movement skills of ancient species. Some researchers have advocated for a “fast-running” T. rex theory, suggesting that the dinosaur may have reached speeds of up to 20 meters per second, or 45 miles per hour. (Source)

Newer Discoveries Push For A Slower Running T. Rex

A more recent study estimating the stresses operating on the limb bones of a T. rex has revealed a more modest speed of 5 to 11 meters per second, or about 15 to 25 miles per hour. Any quicker sprinting would have shattered the legs of this bipedal dinosaur.

According to new computer models based on tail movement, Tyrannosaurus was a sluggish walker, moving at just 1.3 meters per second (3 miles per hour). A human’s typical walking pace is 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Researchers from the Netherlands utilized the simulated resonance frequency of body components to clock their T.rex called Trix. Trix is a Tyrannosaurus rex specimen discovered in Montana, USA, in 2013 by paleontologists from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands.

More than thirty years old and the world’s oldest Tyrannosaurus specimen, this Tyrannosaurus specimen lived around 67 million years ago. It is thought to be the third most intact Tyrannosaurus skeleton discovered, with between 75 and 80 percent of its bone volume preserved.

The peak speed of a T. rex has long been a source of contention among paleontologists. Previously, best estimates showed that the big lizard could run at speeds ranging from 11 to 33 miles per hour. (Source)

That implies that in a hypothetical race between a person and the legendary dinosaur, a T. rex might beat the world’s fastest human, who has a record at about 27 miles per hour. Paleontologist William Sellers from the famed University of Manchester and his team have computed the statistics using even more detailed data.

According to their findings published in the journal PeerJ in 2017, the lower end of the range is more precise: T. rex could probably only reach approximately 12 miles per hour. Its limbs would have broken if it had moved any quicker.

How Modern Technology Has Helped Scientists

On the other hand, scientists can get much nearer to an answer by developing increasingly complicated biomechanical models. Bone stress was one of the novel materials considered in this model. While running, a bone can only withstand so much pressure before shattering.

Sellers and his colleagues created their new model by combining the whole body mass of a T. rex—roughly seven tons—with the mechanical characteristics of bone. According to Sellers’ study, T. rex was not one of the most athletically gifted dinosaurs on the Cretaceous landscape, surprising none of most paleontologists. 

As per Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who has never been engaged in the study, the cinematic picture of T. rex is incorrect. Furthermore, he stated that paleontologists had known this for over a decade, and this new study emphasizes it by giving the most extensive computer modeling studies to date.

Recommended Reading

The article you are reading is one of the 17 Series Articles connected to the Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex. Check out the Ultimate Guide or other key Series Articles selected for you at the bottom of the article!

Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex
Main Article – With Links to 17 Series Articles

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❖ Read Now! The Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex

The main article in the series, it is packed with information all about the King of the Dinosaurs. it provides information about the first discovery, some of the latest fossil findings, and covers the anatomy of the dinosaur. Following this, it provides a look at the classification and phylogeny. The places, where T. Rex fossils have been found are described and a few of the key fossil skeletons are described. The master article also covers:

—Interesting facts you may not know about T. Rex
—Unanswered questions about the T. Rex
—Links to the Series Articles (17 in total!) which give deeper info on the dinosaur.

Who is Faster: T-Rex or Velociraptors?

Dinosaurs like the T.rex and velociraptors are commonly depicted in movies as the fastest of the dinosaur species. This section will compare these two species in terms of speed and conclude a very important fact.

Recent Findings Show T-Rex Outrunning Velociraptors

Even though the facts presented earlier had established that the T.rex had moved slower according to their body composition, they are still faster than other dinosaur species.

Tyrannosaurs were designed to kill, having strong jaws and sensitive teeth. But, according to experts, they were also constructed for something else: speed.

As if huge, toothy dinosaurs were not frightening enough, new evidence shows tyrannosaurs were built for speed. The new study indicates that even velociraptors, depicted in “Jurassic Park” as gold-medal hurdlers, were not precisely adapted for speed.

According to Eric Snively of the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, who has not been involved in the current study, velociraptors could jump down out of a tree and slice anyone apart. However, the latest findings have proven that Velociraptor and its cousins were slower.

The hunt for Velociraptor began with a thorough examination of the preserved legs of more than 50 species of predatory dinosaurs. It was simple to estimate the length of the legs of little dinosaurs. (Source)

According to research co-author Scott Persons, a graduate student at Canada’s University of Alberta, measuring the large men’s legs required a ladder and a pretty long tape measure.

Persons and his supervisor, University of Alberta’s Philip Currie, measured the length of each animal’s bottom leg – a crucial to speed – while accounting for the animal’s total size. They discovered that certain meat-eating dinosaurs, despite their huge size, had unusually lengthy lower legs. With such leg lengths, an animal may cover more land with each step.

The tyrannosaurs, including the famous Tyrannosaurus rex and species like T. rex’s lesser relative Gorgosaurus and its Asian cousin, the Tarbosaurus, were among the standouts according to the researchers in the journal Scientific Reports in 2016.

People compared the T. rex to the Rockettes because they resemble the world-famous cheerleading squad. They are known to have legs for days that will make supermodels green with envy.

The lankiest of all was a reptile that Persons believes should be named Nanotyrannus, the species name some scientists gave to a predator that resembled a tiny T. rex. According to Persons, Nanotyrannus was the cheetah to T. rex’s lion.

The latest discoveries have not persuaded every scientist. According to Kevin Middleton of the University of Missouri, the study’s concept is fascinating, and they could be fully and utterly correct. However, there is no certainty yet. He would want to see additional analysis to confirm the findings.

People believe his comparisons are valid. He also has yet another, more substantial piece of proof for tyrannosaur speed: the footprints of a tyrannosaur outside for a walk, which is an incredibly unusual discovery.

In a recent issue of Cretaceous Research, Persons and his team reveal the 66-million-year-old footprints that swirl across a block of stone in Wyoming. The separation of the tracks indicates that the animal was walking at a rate comparable to a brisk stroll or perhaps a leisurely jog for humans.

That speed suggests that a tyrannosaur would have no problem catching up to that of a duckbill dinosaur, a herbivorous dinosaur that would have made an excellent tyrannosaur meal. (Source)

A Closer Look At The Velociraptor’s Speed

To understand how velociraptors can be compared to the T.rex, here are some things people should know about them and their speeds. Velociraptor, or “raptor,” inhabited the Earth between 75 million and 71 million years ago, when dinosaurs were at their peak at the close of the Cretaceous Period.

Henry Fairfield Osborn, director of the American Museum of Natural History, named the Velociraptor in 1924. The label “rapid thief” is a little deceptive. The Velociraptor could run with speeds of up to 40 mph or 60 kph on its two thin legs, but it could only maintain that speed for extremely brief spurts.

The T-Rex Can Still Outrun The Velociraptor

People think the T-rex and the Velociraptor are the fastest dinosaur species because the way they are portrayed in films such as Jurassic Park has affected the people’s viewpoint towards their capabilities. The moviemakers portrayed these two as menacing dinosaur species, with speeds that will not allow any other animal or person to escape from becoming their prey.

Thankfully, with technological advancements happening today, many scientists are now correcting people’s stereotypes against these species. Hopefully, more people would realize that the Jurassic Park films should never be seen as a completely accurate portrayal of how dinosaurs moved back then.

How Did Speed Help T. Rex as a Hunter?

Now that all the things people should know about T.rex’s speed as a dinosaur compared to the other species, this section will discuss the role that speed played in the T.rex’s hunting pursuits.

The Tail Has Played A Major Balancing Role

Tyrannosaurus rex was not a sluggish Cretaceous-era predator whose long tail merely served to counteract the weight of its unnaturally large head upfront.

Scott Persons, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta, has given T. rex’s agility a better definition. His comprehensive research demonstrates that the huge carnivore’s strong tail muscles allowed it to be one of the fastest-moving predators of its day.

The University of Alberta paleontology student began his investigation by analyzing the tails of modern reptiles like crocodiles and Komodo dragons to those of T.rex.

Persons discovered that the largest muscles in the tail of all animals in his research are linked to the upper leg bones. The caudofemoralis muscles are responsible for the power stroke, which allows for quick forward movement. However, Persons discovered that T.rex has one critical variation in its tail anatomy.

More on the Tail’s Involvement

The rib bones connected to the vertebrae lend form and strength to the tails of both T.rex and contemporary animals. The bones in the tail of T. rex were discovered to be significantly higher on the tail.

It allows the caudofemoralis muscles to tone up and extend towards the lower end of the tail. Without rib bones to limit the development of the caudofemoralis muscles, they developed into a strong power plant that allowed T.rex to run.

Extensive examinations of T.rex bones and computer modeling indicate that initial estimations of lean mass in the dinosaur’s tail were up to 45 percent off. Many older T. rex experts believed the animal missed the requisite muscular mass for sprinting, limiting its hunting abilities.

Due to its slowness, T. rex was reduced to the position of a scavenger, surviving solely by eating on animals slaughtered by other predators. According to experts, the actual speed of a T. rex is difficult to determine, but Persons believes it could certainly run down anyone else species in its habitat.

Conclusion

Tyrannosaurus rex is painted as one of the fiercest dinosaur species that graced the face of the Earth back then when they were thriving in their areas in North America. Even though they are known as the most ferocious species, they still have their weaknesses, but it did not deter them from ruling the animal kingdom back then. 

They are still fierce, strong, and powerful, and their speeds are not that much of a disadvantage as they can still kill animals in a blink of an eye. 

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