A palaeontologist believes that the T-Rex's short forearms may have had more vicious purposes than previously thought. More than just grasping prey or mating, it's possible the T-Rex used the sharp claws to viciously slash its prey.
Grasping, Sex, Or Evolutionary Remnant?
Scientists still do not have a consensus as to the definite purpose of the T-Rex's fairly short forearms. It's a pretty defining feature of the prime predator, but experts still aren't sure what the creature may have used it for. Some scientists believe that perhaps the claws were useful in grasping their prey, in pushing themselves up from the ground, or even to hold on to their mates when mating.
However, the current belief is that the short forearms may simply be a remnant of evolution, quite like wings on modern flightless birds. Some even believe that the short forearms were something of a compromise during evolution to make way for their large heads and necks.
Short But Vicious Arms
Steven Stanley, a palaeontologist from the University of Hawaii in Maui, presented his findings at the Geological Society of America in Seattle. He believes that the T-Rex may have used its claws for close-contact slashing, leaving its prey with deep slashes. Stanley states that similar to other dinosaur species, the T-Rex possibly mounted on its victim or grasped it with its jaw while it repeatedly inflicted deep slashes in quick succession.
"Why should T. rex not have engaged in this activity?" asked Stanley.
Supporting this theory are the bones of the T-Rex itself, with strong albeit short arm bones and ball-and-socket joints that allow it to move in various directions. What's more, through the course of evolution, the T-Rex lost one of three claws, leaving the remaining two claws with stronger slashing powers.
Short Reach And Stronger Jaws
Other scientists are skeptical of the hypothesis, stating that the T-Rex's arms are too short, and that the T-Rex would have to practically push itself onto the other animal in order to cause a substantial slash. At that odd position, then the T-Rex wouldn't be able to use its powerful jaws to make a more effective attack.
That said, they agree that the T-Rex's forearms may have been bigger before it atrophied during the course of evolution where the powerful jaws took over as its prime weapon. However, Stanley believes that despite being atrophied, the forearms may still have had more function than just for mating, other minor purposes, or as a pre-evolution reminder.