Science News looks at a newly discovered, large-headed carnivorous dinosaur that, like T. rex, had surprisingly small forelimbs. But these independently evolved little arms were apparently kind of muscular:
Meraxes gigas, named for a dragon in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, lived between 100 million and 90 million years ago in what’s now Argentina, says Juan Canale, a paleontologist with the country’s CONICET research network who is based in Buenos Aires. Despite the resemblance to T. rex, M. gigas wasn’t a tyrannosaur; it was a carcharodontosaur — a member of a distantly related, lesser-known group of predatory theropod dinosaurs. M. gigas went extinct nearly 20 million years before T. rex walked on Earth.
The arms may have shrunk so they were out of the way during the frenzy of group feeding on carcasses.
But, Canale says, M. gigas’ arms were surprisingly muscular, suggesting they were more than just an inconvenient limb. One possibility is that the arms helped lift the animal from a reclining to a standing position. Another is that they aided in mating….
You can read more of Canale’s research here, in Current Biology.