Tyrannosaurs plodded like elephants

Published on June 30th, 2010 | by Sevaan Franks

2
news-elephant-study_22733_600x450

A study of the nervous system of the might Tyrannosaurus Rex shows the dinosaur wasn’t necessarily quick and agile, but rather plodded along like an elephant.

When a vertebrate—an animal with a backbone—stubs its toe, electrical signals get carried from the toe to the spinal cord by a nerve, which is made up of bundles of long, fiberlike cells.

Since the researchers couldn’t study a T. rex’s nerves directly, the team looked at how nerves work in a range of modern animals, from the tiny shrew to midsize dogs and pigs to massive Asian elephants.

The scientists found that, for all body sizes, nerves have a basic speed limit of about 180 feet (55 meters) a second. That’s the fastest a signal can travel from an animal’s feet to its spinal cord—the kind of signal that’s essential for walking and running.

At that speed limit, big animals such as elephants can’t run too fast or they’re effectively running blind.

Suppose an elephant steps on a pebble, said study leader Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. If the pachyderm was running fast, “its foot would be nearly off the ground before it could do something in response to that troublesome pebble.”

[Full story]

Tags: , , , , ,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Follow me on Twitter!   Subscribe to my RSS feed!
     
  • Question of the Moment

    Next month is the 195th anniversary of the birth of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, historically considered by many to be the great American novel. From the list below, my favorite novel is:

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Sponsors

  • Random Quote

    History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. — David C. McCullough

  • Popular Categories

  • Archives