One of the most memorable scenes in Jurassic Park, released in 1993 showed a Tyrannosaurus rex charging down the road behind an open jeep with an injured Jeff Goldblum in it. Since the movie has released, scientific understanding of the dinosaurs has evolved quite a bit. Simulations using high performance computers have shown that the T. Rex would not have been able to run very fast, and that its leg bones would have buckled under its own weight.
Previous simulations had suggested running speeds of up to 72 kilometers an hour. Researchers from the University of Manchester combined two approaches for simulations, multibody dynamic analysis (MBDA) and skeletal stress analysis (SSA), into one model. Although MBDA and SSA have individually been used to estimate the gait of dinosaurs, they have never before been combined into one model.
The simulations showed that the load bearing capacity of the skeleton of the T. Rex was not enough to support a running gait. Professor William Sellers says "the running ability of T. rex and other similarly giant dinosaurs has been intensely debated amongst paleontologists for decades. However, different studies using differing methodologies have produced a very wide range of top speed estimates and we say there is a need to develop techniques that can improve these predictions."
The results of the study has been published in Peerj. The study breaks new ground into research on how the ancient therapods moved and hunted. Different studies conducted using different approaches have ended up with widely varying top speed estimates of the dinosaurs. Because all scientists have to go on are bones and a few fossils of the footprints, the skeletal load of the animal was not a consideration so far when it came to guessing how they moved, and how fast. The new simulations show that the T. Rex could not run, and even its walking speed was limited because of its weight.
The finding shows that the T. Rex could not have pursued its prey, and changes the way scientists think that the T. Rex behaved. Although the study was conducted on the T. Rex, the finding hints that other gigantic two legged dinosaurs such as the Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus, Acrocanthosaurus and the Spinosaurus also could not run. As the T. Rex would have gotten heavier with age, the study indicates that the therapods got increasingly less athletic as they advanced in age.