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JHGFR

Tags : Education

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News Report:


T. rex's beefy neck made up for his puny arms

Ah, poor T. rex. Despite being hailed as one of the most ferocious killing machines that ever walked the Earth, the king of dinosaurs suffered from having two of the silliest-looking baby arms in the entire history of Animalia. And with the surging popularity of internet memes, the poor guy just can’t seem to get a break:
 
 
But so what if the arms were pathetic? According to researchers, its royal majesty didn’t need them anyway. 

When it came to ripping other giant creatures to shreds, the T. rex’s powerful head and neck more than made up for its glaring lack of useful forelimbs.
 
Tyrannosaurs rex belongs to the family of large predatory dinosaurs, all of which had necks that are similar to those of modern birds – specifically raptors like hawks and eagles. By scrutinizing the neck functions of such raptors during feeding, Eric Snively of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and his colleagues were able to reconstruct how the T. rex went about murdering its prey.
 
“We looked at a number of raptors and documented their behavior,” said Snively. “There is a strong possibility that the tyrannosaurs behaved in the same way.”
 
The team gathered a dozen raptors from 10 different species – from bald eagles to chickens – and placed electrodes on their skin. The electrodes then measured the electrical activity in their neck muscles while they tore their prey to bloody chunks and fed. To observe their neck movements, the birds were also filmed. The combined data allowed the team to determine the specific muscle movements that governed each phase of the raptor’s feeding process.
 
Bite, shake, and twist
 
Snively noticed that the raptors raised their heads and focused their sight on their prey before dropping their heads low and going for the kill. Once they had clamped down on the flesh of their victims, they then thrust their heads upwards and pulled back with their legs.
 
Because the musculature of the T. rex’s neck was similar to these raptors’, this suggests that the dinosaur king also performed these same movements when it attacked and fed on its prey:
 

In addition, a majority of the birds also shook their necks after biting into their meal. The main muscle involved in this action was also present in T. rex.

“The shaking motion is the same as when a dog shakes off water,” Snively stated. “We think that the dinosaur would have used this motion to dislodge meat from a carcass.”

Ouch!
 
The neck of the T. rex also shared similarities with crocodile necks. “Alternate reconstructions indicate that tyrannosaurid neck muscles combined the robustness of crocodilian musculature with the functional regionalization seen in birds,” the researchers wrote.
 
“We can think of them as striking like a bird, and shake-feeding like a crocodile,” said Snively.
 
So why those puny arms?
 
Researchers have long wondered why the T. rex developed to have such teeny forelimbs. Some have offered a variety of suggestions, such the T. rex using those arms to build nests or to hold on to struggling prey.
 
 
According to Snively, however, the powerful neck could possibly be the reason why the T. rex evolved to have such laughably tiny arms.
 
“Tyrannosaurs didn’t need big arms to hunt, because their powerful bites and hyper-bulldog necks did the job,” Snively explained. “From the shoulders forward, T. rex was like a whole killer whale: just bite, shake and twist.”
 
Besides, modern raptors are some of nature’s most effective killers, despite never having to use “arms”.
 
David Hone of Queen Mary University of London spoke positively of the study’s results. “We need to be careful not to overly rely on these as analogies, but in at least some ways, some animals like tyrannosaurs that are relatively distant from birds are still very bird-like,” he said.
 
So the next time you feel like having a giggle at the T. rex’s stubs-for-arms, consider what it can do to you with just the power of its head and neck alone.
 
The study was published in the Zoological Society of London's Journal of Zoology. — TJD, GMA News





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