T-Rex were nothing like films, comics, and cartoons would have us believe. Thankfully, technology offers a closer image of how they really looked like 65 million years ago.
By Beatriz Esquivel
"Scotty" is the name given to a Tyrannosaurus found in 1991 which has recently been recognized as the largest of its kind, measuring 13 meters (42 feet) long and weighting up to 9 tons.
Scotty’s size is probably what many of us imagine when we think of his species. However, as fascinating as this image may be, our idea of a T-Rex is heavily influenced by movies, series and cartoons. Hollywood has promoted the false view that T-Rexes were gigantic and threatening, and could roar so loudly that many of us got goosebumps every time they appeared on screen.
Nowadays, new techniques and technologies allow us to collect better information about fossils. In Scotty's case, for instance, though the remains were found 28 years ago, it wasn't until now that his true dimensions were confirmed. Several myths have finally been busted, which places us closer to a more faithful version of the animal that roamed the earth 65 million years ago.
Here are some of the myths we now know are false:
As amazing as its roar may sound in films, its real anatomy indicates the T-Rex could only have made a vocalization similar to a crocodile's moaning. Sure, those are scary, but they certainly don't have a strident sound. The T-Rex would have even been able to cry with a closed jaw.
They ran fast
You need only observe any current animal to realize they require four legs to run as quickly as possible. However, we got used to the idea that the T-Rex could sprint in two hind legs as fast as 72 km/h. A reenactment has proven this to be a myth, since its legs would not have been able to withstand its weight. As simulations have shown, we can estimate the T-Rex to have run no faster than 19 km/h. Perhaps it could've outrun a person with zero fitness.
It walked almost erected on two legs
This was practically impossible, considering its size and weight. If anything, T-Rexes would've moved extremely slowly. But the structure of its backbone, as well as the absence of marks in its tail, show that they actually walked with their neck bent, which would form a semi straight line from its head to its tail.
Its skin was filled with scales
We've always pictured the T-Rex's skin much like the skin of other current reptiles. However, new analyses shown traces of feathers, which were found on the upper part of its head, neck and back. So, his appearance was probably closer to a bird's.
They could stick their tongue out
That's not to say they don't share some features with crocodiles, though. The T-Rex shows a similar physiognomy whereby its tongue is attached to its lower jaw. Also similarly to crocodiles, its tongue-bones are very short, which would limit their mobility and would therefore render them unable to stick their tongue out under any circumstance.
Their arms were useless
Even though this has been a running joke as of late, there's no evidence that their short arms were useless. In fact, there’s a hypothesis that says they used them to hold their prey, which means they could twist their palms towards their chest and do more than keep them down. Other theories also suggest their arms were a mortal weapon, since they could scratch prey with long claws that could reach up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) long.
The cover image was done by Luis Atilano. Find more of his work on Instagram.
Translated by Santiago González
Write for us!
Do you know more interesting theories about dinosaurs or any other scientific subject? Speak up! Click on this link and learn how you can become a writer for Cultura Colectiva!