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The Incredible Lightness of Being a Dinosaur


Just about everything we ever thought we knew about dinosaurs has turned out to be wrong. These amazing beings who survived and adapted and are still with us (in the form of birds) were smart and colorful (literally), developed feathers and wings, and cared for their young.

And now we’re learning that even the largest of them weren’t the lumbering heavyweights we believed them to be. Quite the opposite; they were lightweights. (Well, at least compared to what we thought!)

Figuring out the weight of an animal who is now a lump of stone has never been easy. But scientists at the University of Manchester in the U.K. have developed a laser technology to calculate body mass.

One of their first discoveries, using their new approach, is that a brachiosaur who was thought to have weighed about 80 tons was only about 23 tons.

“Our method provides a much more accurate measure and shows dinosaurs, while still huge, are not as big as previously thought,” said Dr. Bill Sellers, the lead author of the study, which is published in the journal Biology Letters.

To come up with their new analysis, the team analyzed the skeletons of living species like polar bears, giraffes and elephants, and compared the skeletal sizes with those animals’ actual weight.

For the ins and outs or how Dr. Sellers and his team figured all this out, check out LiveScience or Discover.