New research suggests the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex couldn’t run much faster than an average human.
One of the more iconic scenes from the original Jurassic Park was the car chase scene. Here an angry Tyrannosaurus rex chases a panicked group of scientists. The trio attempts to outrun the dino in their Jeep but struggles—until Alan Grant finally shifts into high gear and leaves the Tyrannosaurus rex in the dust. This scene is not, shall we say, scientifically accurate. According to new research from Manchester University, a Jeep could easily outrun a Tyrannosaurus rex, and so could a person running quite fast.
It’s tough to say exactly how fast the predator could run, considering there are no living test subjects. But previous studies have estimated the size of the animal’s muscles as a way to gauge its speed. These studies have produced a wide range of estimates, from around 15 mph up to 40 mph.
But according to the research from Manchester, all of those speeds are too fast. The Manchester researchers looked not at Tyrannosaurus rex’s muscle mass, but at its bone strength. They found that if it ran anywhere near those speeds its leg bones would snap in half. Instead, the team puts the top speed of a Tyrannosaurus rex at around 12 mph.
For comparison, that’s an attainable sprinting speed for a human being, though if you have the misfortune of being out of shape when a Tyrannosaurus rex starts chasing you, you’ll probably be lunch. The fastest runners in the world can reach more than 20 mph, more than enough to outpace the most famous of the dinosaurs.
This discovery is thanks to a new simulation method that combines traditional muscle data with skeletal stress data to create a clearer picture of what dino movement looks like. This is the first time this analysis has been done and the results are promising. Further research of this kind on different species could radically change our view of how dinosaurs got around.
Watch it in action:
Image credit: University of Manchester
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.