Dinos Slimmed-Down By Scientists (To a Mere 23 Tons)

From Bones to Flesh- The Australian Museum

Scientists have discovered that the weight and mass of dinosaurs may be much lower than previously believed.

A new technique allows experts to estimate the weight of prehistoric animals by measuring something other than their weight and volume. The method will undoubtedly change all current illustrations of the creatures, and provide insight into their unique anatomies.

William Sellers of the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences led his team in a project that measured the amount of skin needed to wrap around the skeletons of large animals such as elephants, giraffes and polar bears. The test revealed that almost all of the specimens had 21% percent more body mass than the minimal skin and bone volume.

“This is a huge help for any sort of reconstruction,” Sellers said. “We now have a number that suggests how much flesh to add to the bones and that should help people produce animals that are the right balance of too fat or too thin.”
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He added, “This technique can also allow you to calculate the numbers you need for more sophisticated reconstructions, such as the running simulations we have produced in the past.”

The researchers applied their findings to the skeleton of a brachiosaur in a museum in Berlin. This dinosaur was previously believed to have weighed around 176,370 pounds. According to the new estimate, however, the figure was reduced to 50,706; a mere fraction of the original weight!

“The 23-ton weight is quite low, but I think it reflects the fact that all other dinosaur weights are getting lower,” Sellers explained. The new estimates, he said, “reflect a better understanding of biology, and I think the early estimates were set in that big, fat and slow lizard mindset before the dinosaur renaissance. I think we will find that the lower estimates are much more appropriate for many dinosaurs.”