Study of a New Giant Dinosaur Species Can Explain Why T. Rex Had Tiny Arms

Prateek Dasgupta
Meraxes gigas, a giant carnivorous dinosaur like the T. rex can help us understand why these large predators had tiny armsWikimedia Commons

Why did huge meat-eating dinosaurs like the T.rex have tiny arms? The question has crossed everyone’s mind at some point. Thanks to the discovery of a new gigantic carnivorous dinosaur, scientist Peter Makovicky from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, has an explanation.

Meraxes gigas, a species of dinosaur, first identified in 2012 in Patagonia, can provide us with a clue why the carnivores among dinosaurs have short arms. Meraxes belong to the Carcharodontosauridae family of dinosaurs. This group of carnivorous dinosaurs includes the Gigantosaurus, recently featured in Jurassic Park: World Dominion. Meraxes was 36 feet tall and weighed 9000 pounds. The dinosaur was built like the T. rex.

The neat thing is that we found the body plan is surprisingly similar to tyrannosaurs like T. rex- Peter Makovicky, Researcher, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Using statistical data, Makovicky and his co-researchers from Argentina Juan Canale and Sebastian Apesteguía concluded the evolution of the skulls of the Meraxes may have resulted in a shortening of the arms of the carnivore. As the dinosaurs evolved, their skulls became larger and arms grew smaller. The skulls helped the dinosaurs devour larger prey.

We shouldn’t worry so much about what the arms are being used for, because the arms are actually being reduced as a consequence of the skulls becoming massive. Whatever the arms may or may not have been used for, they’re taking on a secondary function since the skull is being optimized to handle larger prey- Peter Makovicky, Researcher, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The research team also observed Meraxes evolved quite fast compared to other dinosaurs. But within a period of a few million years, they disappeared from the earth. Scientists are unable to explain why, though the dinosaur didn’t show any signs of poor adaptation to a rapidly changing environment.

Here, we have evidence that Meraxes and its relatives were evolving quite fast, and yet within a few million years of being around, they disappeared, and we don’t know why. It’s one of these finds where you answer some questions, but it generates more questions for the future. Juan Canale, Researcher, National University of Río Negro

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As a writer, lost civilizations and human progress fascinate me. My goal on News Break is to spark people's interest in the past, archaeology, natural history, and the history of scientific inquiry.

Tampa, FL

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