Palaeontology / Science

The awesome thing about dinosaurs

There are lots of awesome things about dinosaurs, but the thing I wanted to mention today is that being a fan of dinosaurs doesn’t mean learning some static list of species and dates and habitats and then that’s it. We’ve been studying dinosaurs for decades, and we still haven’t learned all there is to know. I saw a headline about dinosaurs in my feed yesterday: “T. rex was a champion walker, highly efficient at lower speeds”. I feel like T. rex has changed from a sprinter to a walker to a sprinter to a walker again several times during my lifetime of being fascinated with dinosaurs.

It’s a perfect demonstration of how the scientific method should work: we come up with theories based on the evidence we have, we share them with other people and refine our ideas based on that intellectual discourse, and then we go looking for more data and test our theory against that data.

(Scientists are not always good at letting go of a pet theory… but we’re talking about the ideal here.)

If you’re wondering, this latest theory about the walking speed of a T. rex is due to a complex set of calculations that take into account limb length, size ratios, body mass and gait patterns to analyse the optimal speeds for particular dinosaurs in terms of energy expenditure. They’ve found that sprinting is hardly a T. rex‘s most efficient speed, and their cruising speed probably ate up the miles in a very efficient way as they searched for prey. No doubt other scientists, still wedded to the sprinting theory, disagree.

We know they’re all wrong.

A T. rex makes its way through the landscape primarily by hopping over obstacles until the day it meets the wrong cactus (or pterodactyl).

Not my actual high-score, but the one obtained in an online version when I needed a quick screenshot

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