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Among predatory dinosaurs, few flesh-eaters were bigger, faster and nastier than the "tyrant lizard" of popular imagination, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. At least, that is what we have been led to believe. Now research suggests that, far from being the Ferrari of dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose ferocious reputation has fascinated generations of schoolchildren, as in fact a cumbersome creature with a usual running speed of twenty-five kilometers an hour. This is a mere, snail's pace compared with modern animals such as the cheetah.
Unlike some of the predators of today's African Savannah, which can be change direction almost immediately, the dinosaur would have had to turn slowly or risk tumbling over. And while a human can spin forty-five degrees in a twentieth of a second, a Tyrannosaurus would have taken as much as two seconds, as it would have been hampered by its long tail. Thankfully, however, all its pray, such as triceratops, would have been afflicted with the the same lack of speed and agility.
The findings wear reached after researchers used computer modelling and bio-mechanical calculations to work-out the dinosaur's speed, agility and weight. They based their calculations on measurements taken from a fossil dinosaur representative of an average Tyrannosaurus and concluded the creatures probably weighed between six and eight tonnes.
Calculations of the leg muscles suggest that the animal wood have had a top speed of forty kilometers an hour, which is nothing compared to a cheetah's one hundred kilometers an hour. It is sobering to reflect, though, that an Olympic sprinter runs at about thirty-five kilometers an hour, not sufficient to outrun a Tyrannosaurus, should Man have been around at that time!