Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Tyrannosaurus rex couldn't run, but it was a speedy walker

Fifty years ago, if you had asked the dinosaur experts, they would have told you that Tyrannosaurus rex was a speed freak — a giant predator that could outrun racehorses. The paleontologists would have pointed to its 3-meter hind limbs, leggy for even a big dinosaur, and described the creature as sprinting after prey at speeds of 40 mph.

But a better understanding of physics kneecapped the swift T. rex concept. Scientists, rather than looking at the bones alone, began to gauge dinosaur locomotion via models of skeletons and muscles. The picture that came into focus was a slower beast: T. rex, although no less of a predator, was certainly less fleet of foot.

A new report, published Monday in the journal PeerJ, refined just how fast the dino could go. T. rex wasn't much of a runner, the study authors say. In fact, it couldn't run at all. Instead, the animal speed-walked.

Thanks to its wide stride, T. rex would reach about 12 mph at its quickest hustle. "Most of us would have difficulty jogging to keep up," said paleontologist Phillip L. Manning, director of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at the College of Charleston, S.C. (Not that you'd want a dinosaur with 8-inch-long teeth as a walking buddy.)

Previous estimates of T. rex's maximum pace ignored weight loads on the animal's bones. The new study took those into account, Manning said, and the result was "a bit like putting a governor on an engine." The scientists asked the model T. rex to move as fast as it could. At a run, the model indicated that T. rex's bones would snap because its legs would buckle under its weight.

Unable to break into a sprint, it must have stepped its way through the Cretaceous Period.

But that doesn't mean a 7-ton T. rex, at a full-bore walk, was anything less than terrifying. Elephants also don't run, which is to say they never have all four feet off the ground, and have been reliably clocked at about 10 mph. That's fast enough to leave a lasting impression. "The joy of an elephant charging you, trust me," Manning said, "it's one of those trouser-filling moments."

John Hutchinson, an expert on evolutionary biomechanics at the University of London's Royal Veterinary College who has also estimated T. rex speeds, called this work a "very sophisticated computer simulation." The max estimate of 12 mph was in line with the low end of previous tyrannosaurus models.

But like all computer simulations, this one came with certain assumptions baked in, Hutchinson noted. The study authors assumed that the animal's muscles were optimized to be as strong as they could, figuring that bone strength was the T. rex's weak point. Hutchinson said he was uneasy about that assumption, noting that "we don't understand the principles that govern speed limits in living animals."

Manning acknowledged that the model could be improved: It gave a conservative estimate and did not account for features such as elastic tendons, which could bump up the T. rex's top speed.

At this point, Hutchinson said, such a consensus has built around T. rex behavior that the dinosaur "is quickly running out of questions" for scientists to answer. The locomotion of other dinosaurs presents more interesting scenarios, in his view. He is investigating how the earliest dinosaurs moved — animals the size of house cats that would have had to scamper away from giant land crocodiles or end up as lunch.

Manning is also curious about other dinosaur species, particularly the biggest of the bunch. "It's modeling a house walking across the plain," he said. "It is quite exciting."

Comments
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Updated: 2 hours ago
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

More than a year ago, Kevin Knox stepped across the stage at the Straz Center to receive his high school diploma.On Thursday, the former Tampa Catholic star was on basketball's biggest stage as he fulfilled his lifelong goal of making the NBA.Knox wa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He already will miss the first three...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and intellectual provocateur who championed the muscular foreign policy of neoconservatism that helped lay the ideological groundwork for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, died...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG – Rookie 1B Jake Bauers has impressed at the plate and in the field since his June 7 promotion.Also, with his hustling on the bases."I knew he played hard; everybody said that at every level,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I di...
Updated: 5 hours ago