Forces and Motion

Prehistorical speeds

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

Analysis of human footprints dating back 20,000 years suggests that one individual, known as T8, was running at 20 km/hr and still accelerating. This is not quite as fast as the current human speed record but nonetheless impressive for an individual running barefoot and in mud. Analysis of archaeological relics has led to the estimation of the velocity of various different weapon systems:

WeaponVelocity km/hr
Reed Shaft217
Apache Arrow155
Sioux Arrow108
7ft Dart76

Based on estimates that extrapolate from mammals, it has been calculated that smaller bipedal dinosaurs could travel at 35-40 km/hr while larger bipedal dinosaurs were limited to the range 15-20 km/hr. It is assumed that quadrupedal dinosaurs were restricted to walking pace, with Stegosaurus travelling at a maximum speed of 6-8 km/hr. Well preserved tracks from a ‘dinosaur stampede’ found in Queensland, Australia, gave evidence for coelurosaurs and ornithopods travelling at 13 km/hr and 15.5 km/hr respectively.


appears in the relation SUVAT Equations
can be represented by Motion Graphs
has the special case Wave Speed
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