|The Brachiosaur, once thought to weigh 176,370 pounds, is now believed to have weighed 50,706 pounds. William Sellers|
A new study describes an advanced technique that is used to measure the weight and size of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. The study appears in the latest issue of Biology Letters. “This is a huge help for any sort of reconstruction,” lead author William Sellers told Discovery News. “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.”
“This technique can also allow you to calculate the numbers you need for more sophisticated locomotor reconstructions, such as the running simulations we have produced in the past,” added Sellers, who is based at the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences.
He and his team used lasers to measure the minimum amount of skin required to wrap around the skeletons of large modern animals that included reindeer, polar bears, giraffes and elephants. After doing this, the researchers noticed that the animals had almost exactly 21 percent more body mass than the minimum skeletal “skin and bone” wrap volume.
The formula was then applied to a giant Brachiosaur skeleton housed at Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde. Previous estimates of this dinosaur’s weight have been as high as 176,370 pounds. This latest study, however, reduces the figure to just 50,706 pounds -- impressively weighty, but not nearly as heavy as previously thought.
Sellers said that the new estimate "reflects 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.”