T. Rex may have used arms for slashing, study reports

A new study suggests that T Rex's short arms may have been used for hunting after all.
By Jason Spencer | Nov 08, 2017
Steven Stanley, a paleontologist from the University of Hawaii in Maui, has found evidence that suggests T. Rex used its short arms to slash and rend prey.

Though T. Rex's short arms are an iconic part of the large dinosaur, scientists have never been able to agree on what they were used for. Some believe the animals used them to grasp prey, while others think the arms could have helped the massive beasts push themselves up off the ground or mate.

However, in the new study, Stanley found evidence that the ancient reptiles used their claws for close-contact slashing in the same way as other, smaller species,Tech Times reports. He believes T. Rex would have mounted their prey, grasped it, and then slashed out repeatedly with their arms.

He came to this conclusion by looking at fossilized arm bones. That analysis showed that, not only were T Rex's arms strong, but they also had ball-and-socket joints that allowed them to move in different directions. Such features suggest the arms had a great amount of mobility and were likely used quite a bit.

In addition, T. Rex also lost one of its three claws throughout evolution. That change would have made the remaining two claws stronger, and given them more powerful slashing ability.

"Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T. rex, whether mounted on a victim's back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a meter [three feet] or more long and several centimeters [more than an inch] deep within a few seconds," explained Stanley, according to National Geographic. "And it could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession."

While the study does give ample evidence that T. Rex slashed with its claws, many paleontologists are still skeptical of the data. They believe that the arms were simply too short to reach prey, and that jaws would have been a more effective way to attack.

Even so, the skeptics also state that it is possible T. Rex's forearms were bigger before it shrunk down during the course of evolution. However, more research is needed before such claims can be made.

"Infliction of damage by slashing was widespread among other theropod taxa," added Stanley, according to Science Alert."So in light of its formidable weaponry, why should T. rex not have engaged in this activity?"


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