August 17, 2022

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That's why the T-rex had such small arms

That’s why the T-rex had such small arms

Towards the end of the age of the dinosaurs, about 68-65 million years ago, they mourned Tyrannosaurus Rex That the prehistoric version of North America was a dangerous place.

The huge predator can reach around 12-13 meters in length when fully grown. The T-rex can weigh between six and eight tons, and stretch nine meters into the air at most. The head alone was one and a half meters long, and filled with over 50 dagger-like teeth.

But what is this mighty predator with stubborn little hands?

Similar to T-rex

Now a new study has been published in the scientific journal current biology Possible answer to the question.

The study was written in connection with the discovery of a new species of dinosaur that lived in Patagonia in southern Argentina about 90-95 million years ago. The dinosaur was named Meraxes gigas and was a voracious predator, weighing four tons.

The Fearful Predator: This is how one imagines that Meraxes gigas might have looked while spreading fear in ancient Patagonia. Photo: AFP/NTB
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One of the most exciting things about this find is that it is very similar to a T-rex in body shape with its massive hind legs, large, powerful head with a large forefoot – and very small hands.

Despite the similarities, the two birds of prey are not related to each other. Meraxes gigas belongs to the family Carcharodontosauridae, while T-rex belongs to the family Tyrannosauridae. In addition, Meraxes became extinct approximately 20 million years before the first dinosaurs walked on Earth.

Head outweighs his arms

Since the skeleton of Meraxes is extraordinarily complete, scientists have been able to extract important clues to solve the mystery of the pathetic weapons that characterize Tyrannosaurus Rex, among other things.

Powerful gems: Argentine paleontologists Sebastian Apistegoya (left) and Pablo Galena present a copy of the fossil of Meraxes gigas, a newly discovered giant carnivorous dinosaur, at the University of Maimonides in Buenos Aires.  Photo: AFP/NTB

Powerful gems: Argentine paleontologists Sebastian Apistegoya (left) and Pablo Galena present a copy of the fossil of Meraxes gigas, a newly discovered giant carnivorous dinosaur, at the University of Maimonides in Buenos Aires. Photo: AFP/NTB
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Using all the data from the study, the researchers found that all giant predatory dinosaurs had very similar growth, regardless of origin. With its development, the heads became proportionally larger, while the arms shrank more and more.

Arms shrink due to an increase in head size. Their function was entirely secondary because the head was improved so that the animal could beat large prey, says study leader Peter Makovicki of the University of Minnesota in the USA.

mighty bite force

Makovecki is supported by Juan Canal, Project Director at the Ernesto Bachmann Museum of Fossils in Argentina.

– This indicates that the weapons were not used for hunting. Instead, they used their heads to kill their prey, says Kanal CNN.

MIGHTY: A skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex is displayed during a preview at Christie's Rockefeller Center on September 15, 2020 in New York City.  Photo: AFP/NTB

MIGHTY: A skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex is displayed during a preview at Christie’s Rockefeller Center on September 15, 2020 in New York City. Photo: AFP/NTB
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Previous studies have shown that the skull of T. rex has the same structure as that of today’s crocodiles. The jaw joints were stiff and inflexible, as in birds descended from dinosaurs.

Researchers from the University of Missouri, USA, calculated that the fixed jaws gave Tyrannosaurus rex a Bite force seven tons Four times stronger than the crocodile that holds the record today.

In other words, arms became unnecessary as evolution focused on jaws, teeth, and bite force.

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