THE KING of the dinosaurs may not have been so mighty after all according to scientists who reckon the average T-Rex may have weighed in at less than half of some previous estimates.
They now believe the fearsome predator stood on the scales at around seven tonnes on average after examining 100 years of dinosaur research that had put the beast’s weight at anywhere between three and 18 tonnes.
The trouble is the only bits of dinosaurs that remain are bones, which are fine for working out the length and height of the extinct animals but not necessarily the mass – for instance how much of the body was fat or muscle.
But by combining the most effective ways of measuring mass and body size in papers from 1905 onwards, paleontologists have pieced together what they feel is the most accurate picture of the dinosaur famously portrayed in the movie Jurassic Park.
This involves two methods.
The first is to take the bones and use existing animals with similar features to scale up their weight – for instance, measuring the circumference of an arm or a leg of a living creature and then multiplying it by the size of the T-Rex equivalent bone.
This provides an accurate idea of the body mass but not what the animal may have looked like.
The second method is to use computer remodelling programmes based on the skeletons that are more accurate, it is believed, in showing what the dinosaur looked like but not it’s body mass.
But by mixing the two together, paleontologists told the journal Biological Reviews that an average T-Rex would have weighed seven tonnes but some were around five tonnes and a few particularly big specimens could have weighed up to ten tonnes.
Study leader Dr Nicolas Campione of the University of New England, said: “Body size, in particular body mass, determines almost at all aspects of an animal’s life, including their diet, reproduction, and locomotion.
“If we know that we have a good estimate of a dinosaur’s body mass, then we have a firm foundation from which to study and understand their life retrospectively.
“It is only through the combined use of these methods and through understanding their limits and uncertainties that we can begin to reveal the lives of these, and other, long-extinct animals.”
Co-author, Dr David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, added: “There will always be uncertainty around our understanding of long-extinct animals, and their weight is always going to be a source of it.
“Our new study suggests we are getting better at weighing dinosaurs, and it paves the way for more realistic dinosaur body mass estimation in the future.”
In other archaeology news, an interactive map can show you where your home was on Earth 750 million years ago.
A huge fortress dating back to the 12th-century BC has been unearthed in Israel and experts are linking it to a structure described in the Bible.
And, an ancient burial ground containing over 1,500 bodies squashed into circular graves has been discovered in Japan.
What do you think of this T-rex theory? Let us know in the comments…
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