T. rex may have struggled to chase down speeding vehicles as the movie Jurassic Park would have us believe but the worlds most fearsome carnivore was certainly no slouch, research out today suggests.
The University of Manchester study used a powerful supercomputer to calculate the running speeds of five meat-eating dinosaurs that varied in size from a 3kg Compsognathus to a six-tonne Tyrannosaurus.
The study believed to be the most accurate ever produced puts the T. rex at speeds of up to 18mph, fractionally quicker than a sportsman such as a professional footballer.
The bipedal Compsognathus, by comparison, could reach speeds of almost 40mph thats 5mph faster than the computers estimate for the fastest living animal on two legs, the ostrich.
The team headed by biomechanics expert Bill Sellers and palaeontologist Phil Manning say the accuracy of their results is due to the computers ability to use data relating directly to each dinosaur.
Previous research has relied on data from extant bipedal models to provide clues as to how fast dinosaurs could run, said Dr Sellers, who is based in Manchesters Faculty of Life Sciences.
Such calculations can accurately predict the top speed of a six-tonne chicken but dinosaurs are not built like chickens and nor do they run like them.
Our research involved feeding information about the skeletal and muscular structure of the dinosaurs directly into the supercomputer so it could work out how the animals were best able to move.
Despite its powerful memory and 256 processors the computer still took up to a week to learn the biomechanics of each animal starting with the first clumsy steps and developing into a top running speed based on the optimum gait and posture.
The first data to be fed into the computer were those of a 70kg human with the muscle and bone structure of a professional sportsman. The computer accurately predicted a top running
|Contact: Aeron Haworth|
University of Manchester