T. rex’s small arms were built for slashing

Tyrannosaurus rex may have had small arms, but it was no pushover.

This fierce dinosaur is known for its giant head, powerful jaws and overall fearsome appearance — except for those comical-looking arms. But the roughly meter-long limbs weren’t just vestigial reminders of a longer-armed past, paleontologist Steven Stanley of the Department of Geology and Geophysics said on 23 October 2017 at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. Instead, the limbs were well-adapted for vicious slashing at close quarters, he argued.

Stanley noted that the arms were quite strong, with robust bones that could sustain the impact of slashing. Each arm ended in two sharp claws about 10 centimeters long. Two claws give more slashing power than three, because each one can apply heavier pressure. Furthermore, the edges of the claws are beveled and sharp like those of a bear rather than flat like the grasping claws of an eagle. Those traits support the slasher hypothesis, he concluded.

Read more about it at National Geographic, Newsweek, History.com, and in Science News.