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Witmer on Tyrannosaurus

>From Michael Ryan's (CMN) blog, http://palaeoblog.blogspot.com/ , Witmer and
Horner has a series of presentations at this year's American Association for
the Advancement of Science meeting in St. Louis, Missouri (always in the USA):

  "Larry Witmer: *T. rex* appears to have had sensory systems that were "even
   more heightened than we thought," said Ohio University paleontologist
   Lawrence Witmer. That's based on CT scans of fossilized dinosaur skulls that
   can indicate the size of areas devoted to particular tasks. Such an analysis
   indicates that *T. rex* had "an inner ear structure consistent with a
   lifestyle involving rapid tracking movements of the eyes and head," Witmer
   said. Based on brain size, the senses of smell, sight, hearing and balance
   were also relatively well-developed."

  Indeed, because you see, *Tyrannosaurus* needed those tracking and jerky head
capability to keep an eye on all the other tyrannosaurs that wanted to steal
the animal that keeled over for no explicit reason, but makes a good scavenging

  Witmer joined with Horner to discussion general motion:

  "Witmer & Horner: *T. rex* was not particularly agile ? even though it's
   portrayed that way in "Jurassic Park" and other dinosaur movies. Based on
   biomechanical evidence, Witmer and Horner agreed that *T. rex* couldn't jump
   or run in the sense of having both feet off the ground at once. "We have an
   animal that looks like it should be agile, but isn't. ... I don't think *T.
   rex* could dance," Horner said."

  It's actually nice to see some neurological data to add to this discussion on
tyrannosaur speed, but this doesn't conclude anything that Hutchinson and
Hutchinson & Garcia haven't said already: that *Tyrannosaurus* did not have the
muscle mass in its legs required to move it faster than, say a quick walk for
maybe a slow jog, and certainly seems to show it couldn't acheive a suspension
phase in its stride. But I gather Horner's introduction into this is that
predators need to run, so it was a scavenger. Perhaps, maybe, but then, no one
is assessing speed in the prey to date, either. Thus arguments about the
utility of speed in prey capture are meaningless as long as *Tyrannosaurus* is
in a vacuum.



Jaime A. Headden

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

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