Coming home from school a couple of years ago (3rd grade), my daughter had some work to do in her Reading textbook. Looking over the questions, I was rather appalled by the implication that they had in this book that still persist to this day.
|Original mount for the Tyrannosaurus rex by Barnum Brown at the American Museum of Natural History. Image courtesy of Benjamin Burger.
Looking at the original mount for the T. rex above, we can clearly see that this animal looked like it dragged its tail. However, for Barnum Brown to even get the skeleton to bend like this he had to break some of the vertebrate. Which, any modern day scientist will tell you, if you need to break the skeleton to do what you want it to do, you are doing something wrong.
|SUE the T. rex from the Chicago Field Museum.
Other potential tail dragging dinosaurs?
What if this trace was real?
- This is a true tail dragging theropod.
- If this were the case, it would likely be due to an injury that the animal sustained, causing it to drag its tail. An anomaly that we haven't currently found in the fossil record, but one that cannot be ruled out.
- The animal itself was carrying something that was dragging along the ground.
- This is the theory that I like to think makes the most sense. Suppose the animal had its dinner and was carry part of it back to its home or somewhere else. With little use of its arms, its mouth and legs would provide most of the functions that it would need to carry and tear apart any meat. Therefore, it is possible that a large enough body of meat would drag along the ground while being carried by the theropod.
- Something else made the drag mark.
- There are numerous animals that do drag their tails, specifically reptiles, lizards, and other small animals. Although it is a possibility that a theropod came along and walked along the other animals footprints, essentially erasing them, while preserving the tail drag, this is an extremely unlikely scenario. It is also possible that is was a natural drag mark, perhaps a stick being floated down a river that drags along the riverbed. However, again it is unlikely that any animal would walk with this drag mark perfectly aligned between the footprints.