Why does the T. Rex have short arms? A new dinosaur raises controversy again

Agence France-Presse / Carlos Papulio

NOS . News

  • Ivo Landmann

    Online Editor

  • Ivo Landmann

    Online Editor

It’s a question that has haunted people since the discovery of the first Tyrannosaurus rex fossils: Why did the terrifying predator have those crazy short front legs? Paleontologists have discovered a new species of dinosaur in Argentina that looked a lot like T. rex, including clumsy arms, and they also have an idea why they were so short.

Its forelimbs were so short that when the first skeletons of T. rexen were discovered around 1900, the explorers didn’t imagine those tiny limbs belonged to the massive beast. “They were from a different beast, as they first thought,” says paleontologist Melanie Dharan, who is currently doing her PhD research at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Understood. They’re also really short.”

However, small legs were already a part of prehistoric carnivores. In fact, later more species with shorter arms were found. But an explanation? In fact, more than a century later, we still don’t know.

Wikimedia Commons / Rick (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Trex, T-Rex for the Naturalis Museum in Leiden

With the discovery of another dino with modest limbs, this time in Patagonia, the question has once again become quite topical, and once again there is much discussion about it.

Over the years, many theories have been put forward in the world. One of the most common is that the legs were used only when mating. while imagining something. “The tail got in the way of mating, so they could use some extra support.”

Another idea is that the arms are evolutionary remnants that were glued into T. rexes like a kind of appendix. This is quite possible, according to the researcher, because with some birds that no longer really fly, you can also see shorter wings.

And last month, based on multiple studies, scientists came up with that the theory That the legs were short enough to make sure they weren’t accidentally torn off by the monolith. This can happen if the beasts hunt in groups and dive together for prey, such as crocodiles and crocodiles.

But that’s not how evolution works, as the paleontologist points out during. “Evolution doesn’t think ahead, like, I think that’s helpful, so let’s shorten the legs a little bit. There’s a book on evolution called Blind Watchmaker. This is evolution: very complex but without any vision or planning.”

Kanal et al., 2022

Bones of Meraxes Gigas have been found

Then there’s this new dinosaur: Meraxes gigas (‘Meraxes’ is a dragon from Game of thrones, “gigas” speaks for itself, over 10 meters long from head to tail). It looked like a T. rex but it had nothing to do with it. Notable are deformations of the animal’s skull, which may have been a decoration to attract mates. So are those short arms.

Scientists who described the new species in the professional journal current biology Leaning toward a new theory: energy that went to the forelimbs in other species, in Meraxes gigas — and T. rex — went to another part of the body: the massive skull.

This is also a reasonable explanation, according to the paleontologist. “But these other theories can also be true. In fact, it’s not even contradictory. They’ve actually done something with these arms, because the bones are very strong, only very small. But exactly, you can only do it there on speculation. And it’s actually nicer Much: that they discovered and described a new species of dinosaur.”

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