Sauropod dinosaurs not as flexible as in Jurassic Park, claims study
Sauropod dinosaurs not as flexible as in Jurassic Park, claims study

Fans of Jurassic Park look away now: a big chunk of what you saw in that film may not have been scientifically accurate.

Ok, so most people already knew that Michael Crichton's story, about a theme park full of dinosaurs which went on the rampage and began eating guests, wasn't entirely factual.

But a fresh inaccuracy may have come to light, after a team of scientists cast doubt on conventional theories of how long-necked dinosaurs, or sauropods, roamed the earth.

Researchers at the University of Utah found that long-necked species, such as the brachiosaurus, had stiff necks packed with muscle tissue and thus would have been unable to tilt gracefully from tree to tree, like the huge plant-eating dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

The authors of the study, which used computer models based on the physiology of modern ostriches, have warned that museums may not have to totally change how they display the skeletons of long-necked dinosaurs.

Perhaps it is not so surprising on reflection that a enormous creature weighing 100 tonnes - or 100 times more than a modern elephant - was not very lilthe and elegant in its movements. The biggest of all the sauropods, Argentinosaurus, was up to 30m long.

Prof Matthew Cobley told BBC News: "Previous studies looked at the skeleton on its own and the assumption was that flexibility is limited by the bones of the skeleton, but our study shows it's actually the soft tissue around it.

"Different sauropods were limited to different food types. It's why you don't see giraffes eating from bushes from the floor or goats eating from the tree-tops.

"There was a better division of resources between dinosaurs, with the taller ones limited to taller trees and smaller ones to grazing bushes on the floor."