Instead, the dinosaur probably walked at a fairly slow pace, killing its prey by ambushing or engaging in long, slow races with other dinosaurs, the study says.
The findings are a far cry from the classic film depictions of a T-Rex – a rampant dinosaur chasing Jeff Goldblum as he sits injured in the back of a 4 x 4 vehicle in Jurassic Park.
The debate over T-Rex’s running abilities has raged for decades, says Professor William Sellers, lead researcher from the university’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Previous studies suggested the dinosaur could clock speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72.5kmh). But not all scientists agreed, and more research using biomechanical approaches has indicated the predator moved at much slower speeds.
In a study published in Peer J on Tuesday, a team from the University of Manchester created a detailed anatomical computer model of the 7-tonne dinosaur to calculate the load on its skeleton at various speeds and gaits.
They found that its skeleton was perfectly capable of moving at a run – defined as having both feet off the ground at the same time – but if it had ever actually done so, its bones would have shattered.
Researchers believe T-Rex’s maximum speed peaked at around 7.7 meters per second, or just over 17 miles an hour.
Runner Usain Bolt, during the 100-meter sprint, has clocked speeds of over 27 miles per hour.
“We present a new approach … to demonstrate that true running gaits would probably lead to unacceptably high skeletal loads in T-Rex,” Sellers says.
“Being limited to walking speeds contradicts arguments of high-speed pursuit predation for the largest bipedal dinosaurs like T-Rex.”