Whenever we think of dinosaurs we think they are huge, hefty monstrous creatures. But now for the first time scientists have found that these creatures were not bulky and much lighter than previously thought.
Scientists from the University of Manchester have made a stunning discovery: they have found that dinosaurs were much lighter than previously estimated. They discovered this when they were analysing the extent of skin in today's mammal.
Scientists used lasers to measure the minimum extent of skin required to wrap around the skeletons of modern-day mammals, including reindeer, polar bears, giraffes and elephants. They tested this method on 14 large-bodied mammalian skeletons.
"One of the most important things palaeobiologists need to know about fossilised animals is how much they weighed. This is surprisingly difficult, so we have been testing a new approach. We laser scanned various large mammal skeletons, including polar bear, giraffe and elephant, and calculated the minimum wrapping volume of the main skeletal sections," said Dr Bill Sellers, scientist at the University of Manchester, in a statement.
They discovered that the animals had almost exactly 21 percent more body mass than the minimum skeletal "skin and bone" wrap volume.
"We showed that the actual volume is reliably 21 percent more than this value, so we then laser scanned the Berlin Brachiosaur, Giraffatitan brancai, calculating the skin and bone wrapping volume and added 21percent. We found that the giant herbivore weighed 23 tonnes, supporting the view that these animals were much lighter than traditionally thought," Sellers said.
Scientists applied this theory to a giant Brachiosaur skeleton in Berlin's Museum für Naturkunde. They found that the Brachiosaur's weight was around 23 tonnes.
Earlier scientists had estimated the Brachiosaur's weight as much as 80 tonnes; now they found it was just around 23 pounds.
"The value we got for giraffatitan is at the low range of previous estimates; although it is still huge, some of the enormous estimates of the past - 80 tonnes in 1962 - are exaggerated. Our method provides a much more accurate measure and shows dinosaurs, while still huge, are not as big as previously thought," Sellers concluded.