This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Learn more

Scientists finally discover the use for the T Rex's tiny, puny arms

They weren't just for turning off light switches and things

Scientists finally discover the use for the T Rex's tiny, puny arms

Your favourite dinosaur is either the T Rex or the velociraptor, and I am 100% confident in this statement. I am also 99% sure that your favourite dinosaur is the velociraptor, because the T Rex has really dumb shit arms that are a big waste of time and a real target for ridicule in the playground. 

Yes, the T Rex may be very large and have ferocious snapping jaws and powerful legs, but take one look at his wack arms and he becomes a laughing stock, a dinosaur ripe for wedgies, a hulking piece of crap with two useless chopsticks sticking out of his chest, destined for the dino sin bin. Terrible dinosaur. Raptors all the way.

But guess what? I may have to retract those particularly damning indictments, because raptor-hating scientists with nothing better to do with their time have carried out a load of research on the T Rex and its jank little wispy arms, and have found something rather interesting. Supposedly, they were actually useful for something.

And that something? ‘Vicious slashing’.

As in, ripping flesh from its prey, not doing a really big and aggressive wee.

First up, according to the team, a T Rex’s arms were not actually as tiny and insignificant as they are often portrayed - they were in fact a metre long in most cases. Scientists from the University of Hawaii then discovered that the arms and claws were adapted for slashing enemy dinos at close quarters - the short length of the arms would actually work to the T Rex’s favour in this instance. They also found that although they may have looked puny and laughable, they were actually very strong, with extremely robust bones that would withstand a frenzied slash attack quite comfortably.

Tfw you’re about to get up to some real vicious slashing

Dr Steven Stanley said: “Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T Rex, whether mounted on a victim’s back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a metre [three feet] or more long and several centimetres [more than an inch] deep within a few seconds.

“And it could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession.”

“The unusual reduction of the number of fingers from three to two would have resulted in 50% more pressure being applied to each claw.”

So there you go: they were for fighting other dinosaurs up close, not for doing origami or cat’s cradle or flicking the Vs.

However, not everyone is convinced by Steven’s slam-dunk of a theory - paleontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland told National Geographic:

“I would expect it could cause some decent damage if it struck, but in order to deploy [the arm], tyrannosaurus would basically have to push its chest up against the side of the victim.

“In such a position the tyrannosaur wouldn’t be able to use its far more powerful armament: its massively powerful jaws.”

So the truth is all up in the air at the moment, thanks to rogue, controversial trailblazers like Steven Stanley, bowling confidently into the scientific community and punching it a new one. We need more Stevens, sticking up for animals with nonsense arms that died millions of years ago. These are the vital issues that need to be addressed.

Rumoured but not confirmed, Steven’s next important scientific adventure: what did a triceratops fart smell like?

(Image: iStock)