Laugh at the T. rex’s tiny arms… as they shred your frail body just like they were designed to.

Science News brings a new(-ish) perspective on the atrophied forelimbs of Tyrannosaurus rex. Those little arms were perfectly built for close-quarters slashing of prey:

[T]he roughly meter-long limbs weren’t just vestigial reminders of a longer-armed past, paleontologist Steven Stanley of the University of Hawaii at Manoa said October 23 at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. Instead, the limbs were well-adapted for vicious slashing at close quarters, he argued.

Many people have hypothesized that the shrunken arms were, at best, used for mating or perhaps pushing the animal up off the ground; at worst, they were completely functionless.

But 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, Stanley concluded.

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