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Science proves T. rex's wimpy arms were actually terrifying

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Tyrannosaurus rex probably holds the record for most dinosaur appearances in sci-fi film history, usually as a terrifying beast that causes carnage wherever it goes. The one weak point in the otherwise awesome bad-ass-ness of the T. rex has always been its little, wimpy-seeming arms, though.

Mostly the arms are ignored when the T. rex shows up. If they're shown at all, it's usually to feebly pull at a weapon that's become lodged in the T. rex's chest, or maybe to steady some victim T. rex is chomping on. But are the arms SO wimpy that a human could beat a T. rex at arm wrestling?

Popsci talked to Jack Conrad, a vertebrate paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, to find out. The answer is: "There's no chance that any human alive could win," according to Conrad. "The bicep alone—and this is a conservative estimate—could curl 430 pounds."

Humans can at best curl about 260 pounds, in case you were wondering. Also, the only reason those T. rex arms look small is because they're dangling off a monstrously huge dinosaur body ... they're actually 3 feet long and "had the strength to rip a human's arm right out of its socket."

In the unlikely event you ever find yourself in an arm-wrestling contest with the mighty T. rex, though, don't give up all hope. "The T. rex probably couldn't have done the arm-wrestling move," Conrad said. "So maybe you could get him on a technicality."