If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

How fast were dinosaurs?

Trying to estimate the speed of animals dead for more than 65 million years is difficult, but some generalizations are rather clear from the shape and size of dinosaur skeletons. For example, immense sauropods, such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus with their massive bodies and columnar leg structure, were probably not fast runners other than in short bursts. Conversely, lighter and relatively long-limbed theropods, such as Velociraptor and ornithomimids (or "ostrich-mimic dinosaurs) were probably capable of running at high, sustained speeds. Explore the relative speed of dinosaurs.. Created by American Museum of Natural History.

Video transcript

When you say how fast dinosaurs were it depends on which dinosaur you're talking about. Just like, you know, mammals today go all the way from you know something like an armadillo or a sloth which, you know, we can outrun on a bad day to animals like cheetahs which can run in excess of a hundred kilometers an hour. Some of the most complete studies have been based on biomechanical models which people can actually construct models of these things using engineering programs and then run them in computers. And it's a lot of work to do this, so there haven't been a lot of animals which have been done, one animal which has been done is Tyrannosaurus Rex, and people have been able calculate from it that Tyrannosaurus Rex could run at a top speed of about eighteen miles an hour.