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June 22, 2009


Dinosaurs are easily the largest creatures to ever walk the planet. But how big were they, exactly? Some of the estimates put dinosaurs like Apatosaurus as weighing over 40 tons. However, recent experiments have caused scientists to question these models, shrinking the gigantic dinosaurs.

Scientists Geoffrey Bichard of George Mason University in Virginia, Gary Packard of Colorado State University, and Thomas Boardman of CSU ran some tests of the old equation that calculated the mass of dinosaurs, using living animals like elephants. The equation predicted a much greater mass than a live elephant could actually attain. Thus, the three created a new equation that can more accurately predict dinosaur size. Bichard uses an analogy that likens dinosaurs to a build built on pillars: the wider the pillars (or legs), the more weight can be supported.

Based on the new model, Apatosaurus would have weighted just 20 tons, rather than 42. Diplodocus would have come in around 4.4 tons, rather than 6.1 tons as previously estimated. Granted, these numbers are still enormous. The more accurate estimations merely make the dinosaurs a reasonable size. They are still, without a doubt, some of the largest, most impressive creatures to ever exist.

Credit: LiveScience
Image Credit: Bureau of Land Management