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Re: Thick Tyrannosaur Bones

On Fri, 24 Aug 2001 14:00:43  
 philidor11 wrote:
><It says in PDW that predators have denser (not thicker) bones that also 
>fossilize better because they need to fight more and are in greater danger of 
>nonlethal injuries that they wouldn't survive if their bones would break.>
>The first reference I could find on this is: 
>Could T. rex swim?
>This dinosaur had a singularly light body, its backbone was honeycombed and 
>may well have had air cavities in it, which would have made the animal very 
>buoyant. With powerful back legs it may well have been a very able swimmer.
>By the way, thick and dense are near synonyms, though dense does carry more 
>connotation of tightly packed, while thick's connotation is more like a lot of 
>something.  Because the question concerned how dense the bones are, I used 
>thick to avoid implying the answer to my own question.
>Interesting that HP Andy Farke raised a similar question early this month, 
>though he did request off-list answers.

It would be interesting to hear some of those off-list answers...

Anyway, yeah, T. rex did have a light body for its size and a honeycombed 
backbone, but that isn't necessarily indicative of swimming.  Could the arms of 
Tyrannosaurus really provide much use in swimming at all?  Probably not, 
although they were heavily muscled (something that Carpenter and Smith, in 
Mesozoic Vertebrate Life, attribute to predation). 

Swimming at all without the use of arms is very difficult, even if the animal 
is very buoyant.  To make up for this lack of arm power, the legs must be 
maximized.  However, in his talk at the Armour Symposium, HP John Hutchinson 
said that it is at least likely that T. rex couldn't "run," based largely on 
the fact that its leg muscles weren't strong enough.  

Of course, when suspended in water the same rules that govern walking or 
running do not apply.  However, with puny arms and legs likely incapable of 
running, I doubt that T. rex was a very effective swimmer.  Could it swim?  
Maybe.  Could it have buoyed itself up in shallow water and used its legs to 
provide thrust (possibly by pushing off the bottom of the pond or lake)?  
Coombs noted a similar possibility by studying footprints at Dinosaur State 
Park. From an ecological sense, though, would Tyrannosaurus really need to swim?


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