Big dinosaurs were slow movers

Jurassic Park T. rex car chase scene [1:33]

I did not realize until I saw this clip that Jeff Goldblum’s “Must go faster” line in the 1996 movie, Independence Day, was an homage to his character in this classic scene in the 1993 movie, Jurassic Park.

The clip above shows T. rex chasing a car that’s traveling about 45 miles an hour. The car does pull away, but according to two studies, not before T. rex is shown traveling at speeds it could not possibly have reached in real life.

A 1995 study by a paleontologist at Indiana-Purdue University concluded that the strength of T. rex’s thigh bone relative to its body mass was not strong enough to support fast running.

More recently, a 2002 study by two experts in the mechanical movements of living creatures came to the same conclusion.

In order to run that fast, the body mass of T. rex would have had to have been a whopping 86% leg muscle! No creature can have the majority of their body weight just in their leg muscles. It wouldn’t leave room for all the rest of their pieces and parts.

T. rex has always been depicted as a bloodthirsty hunter, but the work these bio-engineers did on large dinosaurs suggests T. rex’s prey was also slow. The amount of leg muscle any animal needs to remain balanced during two-legged running is proportional to the animal’s weight and the relative amount of time that the foot is on the ground.

The bio-engineers calculated that none of the larger dinosaurs could have run any faster than 19-25 miles per an hour at their absolute top speed. This 2009 animation seems to show a more realistic movement for T. rex.

2009 T Rex Muscle Animation [1:39]



Tyrannosaurus Rex Was a Slowpoke By John Roach for National Geographic News – February 27, 2002


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