According to researchers, shows about dinosaurs on Animal Planet and movies like that feature dinosaurs have shown these creatures incorrectly. They were likely to be much skinnier than they were on television or on the big screen. Since all that remains of dinosaurs are their bones, researchers use those to estimate their weight. Previously, they would measure circumference on something like a leg bone and then would go about "scaling this up to the size of a dinosaur," according to University of Manchester biomechanist Charlotte Brassey.
However, apparently, researchers have failed to take into account the curvature of the bones, instead treating them as columns that are perfectly straight. "As soon as we introduce irregularities into their shape Â— the lumps, bumps and curves that are typical of animal bones Â— then they no longer behave like columns," Brassey said.
Scientists developed 3-D models of leg bones from modern animals and then virtually tested them for stress and found that previous studies showing the stresses on the bones of dinosaurs may have been correct by as much as 142 percent. This means that researchers were likely wrong about how much weight those bones could have supported making dinosaurs likely much skinnier than they have been shown on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and movies like Jurassic Park.
As an example, researchers had previously estimated the weight of the dinosaur previously called the Brachiosaurus as 31 to 86 tons, but now they estimate that the animal was much smaller, at around 25 tons. That animal is now called the Giraffatitan. There may be some scientists who are crying foul, since it makes previous work obsolete, but that's the point of science--to keep seeking answers and improve knowledge through further study. These findings were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface on November 21st.
Photo: Mike Shaver on Flickr.com
Gabriel Legend covers current events for Gather News, and writes horror fiction as well. He is participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month Challenge. You can follow him on Twitter (@GabeLegend).