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How Did Giant Theropods Break Their Fall?
Hello everyone, I'm new here and this is may very first post.
The subject that currently interests me the most is the debate on whether
or not short limbed, large theropods could survive a fall. The reason this
interests me is due in part to the fact that I'm a martial arts instructor
and breaking a fall is a big part of what I do. I know Farlow has stated in
his work that a tyrannosaurus would likely die even if it fell at a stand
still. I'm no physicist, but the idea that giant theropods would die so
easily from a fall doesn't make sense when I consider their life style.
I know from actual fighting that most fights that involve any kind of
grappling go to the ground, even when both fighters are trying to avoid
doing so. When two people grapple, one usually loses his balance and falls,
often pulling his opponent with him. Now unless ALL giant predators were
scavengers, one would expect that these animals would fall quite often in
the process of grappling with their prey. I say grappling because all
theropods seemed to kill their prey by seizing them with their jaws and/or
their claws. Giganotosaurus was larger than T-rex and tackled even larger
prey. Giganotosaurus, even with its slashing teeth, would had to of locked
its jaws into the flesh of its prey at least momentarily before tearing off
a large chunk of skin and muscle. A sudden turn, or even a forceful bump
from a 50-100 ton titanosaur could have knocked the giant beast to the
ground. Since this is how giant theropods got their food, one would expect
that they could survive a fall.
So, how did giant theropods prevent injury while falling? My guess is that
they didn't, every fall probably resulted in broken or fractured ribs, but I
don't think it would always be life threatening. They find broken and healed
bones on theropods all the time, is it possible that many of these were from
falls? My question is how did they prevent serious injury or death? You
might be surprised to know that extending your arms to break a fall is one
of the easiest ways to break your arm and least effective way to break a
fall. While falling backwards or to the side, martial artists do not extend
their arms at all, instead they relax their bodies and spread the impact
over a wide area, often by slapping the arms against the ground at the same
time the body makes contact. The only time the arms are used to break a
fall is while falling forward. While doing a front breakfall, the arms are
bent, not extended and the arms are used like a springboard. In every
breakfall that martial artists use, the head is always elevated away from
the ground during impact, this is to prevent head injuries.
The following are my guesses as to how giant theropods may have responded to
falls from different angles.
Side Fall- This would probably be the most damaging fall for a theropod
since some of these animals would in effect be falling 10 feet to the
ground. To minimize injury, I imagine they would spread the impact over as
wide an area as possible. Most of the shock would probably be taken by the
thigh and body, followed by the tail. The neck would likely be bent away
from the ground, with the head elevated as much as possible to prevent it
from slamming into the earth. The animal would probably instinctively expel
the air from its lungs at the moment of impact to reduce the shock and avoid
Front Fall- I doubt this type of fall would cause any major injury since the
animal is already in a horizontal position, with the pubic boot at most
being 5 to 6 feet away from the ground. I imagine that if a T-rex stumbled
while walking it would bend its knees while trying to regain balance, which
would lower the pubic foot, knees and stomach even closer to the ground
before impact, possibly only falling a few feet in the process. I think
people forget that a t-rex is already horizontal and would not fall like a
top heavy, upright human. I've always imagined that tyrannosaurs would land
on their pubic foot and knees when falling, once again with the neck and
head elevated away from the ground.
Falling While Running- If a giant theropod fell while running, I imagine it
would instinctively try to lower its body as much as possible to the ground
before making impact. The body would probably be kept level, so that when it
hit, it would effectively skid across the ground. Contrary to what people
think, if you fall right while running, you are less likely to be hurt than
if you jumped straight into the air and landed on your back. The problem is
that if there is a lot of friction, a tyrannosaur would likely roll head
over tail, which I imagine could result in a broken neck. Humans, cats, dogs
and many other animals avoid this by curling the neck and back to roll
across the ground. Rolling can make a fall, even at high speeds, completely
painless. Now I have no idea whether a T-rex or Giganotosaurus was flexible
enough to curl its neck and back in such a fashion, maybe one of you know?
those are my thoughts. If you think my ideas are rather silly feel free to
let me know =)
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