The most formidable dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex, could have chased down all but the fastest humans.
Researchers at Manchester University used powerful computers to model the skeletons and surrounding musculature of five meat-eating dinosaurs and three living species, including humans. Each virtual creature was then put through its paces to find the fastest running style and top speed. The computers used a technique called evolutionary robotics to work out the most likely gait of each creature, a process that took a week for each species. The results have produced what are believed to be the most accurate figures on dinosaurs' athletic abilities.
"Previously, people have assumed dinosaurs moved like animals alive today, but if you look at them, they aren't like anything still around today, so there's no reason to assume they'd move like them," said Bill Sellers, an expert in dinosaur biomechanics at the university, reports Guardian Unlimited.
The world's most fearsome carnivore, the Tyrannosaurus rex, would have been able to chase down David Beckham, according to new research.
A study by the University of Manchester used a powerful super-computer to predict the dinosaur could reach running speeds of up to 18mph - slightly faster than a sportsman such as a professional footballer.
Scientists have long questioned how fast a T-rex could run, with some experts arguing that it could only move slowly, or merely walk, because of its large leg muscles, reports Scotsman.
The study shows that T rex had a high speed of 8m/s (18mph), but the fastest dinosaur was called Compsognathus. The latter was a small carnivore, which could attain speeds of up to 18m/s (40mph). The researchers said that the only species that can boast of equivalent speeds during modern times is the ostrich.
"One of the things that people argue about is why did they need to move as fast as they did - what are they chasing after," said study co-author Dr Bill Sellers, from the University of Manchester . "What we find is that we're getting really quite high speeds for these animals as well, which makes perfect sense. If you're a fast predator you're probably chasing fast prey that you want to catch."
The study said that the speed of T rex was only marginally better than that attained by a professional footballer. An athlete though can attain speeds of 12m/s during a 200m sprint, reports Earthtimes.
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