By Creation Ministries International
Dinosaurs may have weighed around a quarter of what was once believed. Researchers from the University of Manchester have developed a new way to estimate more accurately the weight of an animal from its fossil bones.1
Earlier techniques involved artists' reconstructions to estimate the body volume, then using the weight of an equivalent volume of water.
Using a laser scanner and highspeed computing, the British team first created a 3D image of the skeletons of known animals with known weights. They then calculated the minimum amount of skin necessary to cover the skeletons, and used estimates of the average density of modern-day tissues to work out the minimum weight of just the skin and bones.
It turned out that when this calculation was done on modern animals such as reindeer, elephants, polar bears and giraffes, in each case increasing this 'estimated skin and bone' weight by 21% almost exactly equalled their actual measured weight.
They then scanned the reconstructed almost complete skeleton of a large dino now classified as Giraffititan brancai (formerly Brachiosaurus brancai) from the brachiosaurid created kind.2 They estimated that if the same formula applied, it would have weighed about 23 tonnes in life. Previously, it had been believed to weigh up to 80 tonnes.
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1. Dinosaurs 'much lighter than previously thought', telegraph.co.uk, 6 June 2012.
2. Minimum convex hull mass estimations of complete mounted skeletons, Biology Letters 8(5):842-5, 2012.