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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Dino Twinkle Toes
5 June 2012 7:15 pm
A new method of estimating the weights of large-bodied animals hints that some dinosaurs may have been considerably lighter than scientists realized. When using the technique, researchers first use lasers to scan a skeleton of a large animal (example, left) and then software to estimate the minimum volume of tissue needed to fill the creature's body cavities and then cover its bones and skull. Next, the team adds an extra 21% to that volume, a correction factor that primarily includes limb muscles but also accounts for skin and surface flesh. (The 21% adjustment is derived from measurements of 14 living species of large-bodied mammals ranging in size from wild boar and caribou to giraffes and elephants and is remarkably consistent from one species to another, the researchers note.) Finally, multiplying the presumed volume of the creature by the average density of body tissue—another factor derived from modern-day mammals—provides an estimated weight, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters. When the technique was applied to the long-necked herbivore Giraffatitan brancai (3D model of skeleton, right), the team found that the dinosaur—one of the largest species yet known, reaching an estimated length of 26 meters—likely weighed just a little over 23 metric tons. That's hefty indeed, but it's nowhere near some of the previously reported weight estimates for the species, which range as high as 80 metric tons.
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