Feeds

Dinosaurs actually slimmer than we thought, say boffins

Unfeasibly lardy elephant exposes duff calculations

Application security programs and practises

American researchers say they have uncovered a mathematical mistake made by the dinosaur boffinry community, meaning that the weight of live dinos has long been massively overestimated. In a development with devastating consequences for various much-fancied works of fiction, it now appears that in fact the dinosaurs were significantly slenderer than had been thought.

"Paleontologists have for 25 years used a published statistical model to estimate body weight of giant dinosaurs. By re-examining data in the original reference sample, we show that the statistical model is seriously flawed," says Gary Packard of Colorado State University.

According to Packard and his fellow dino-heft experts, the Apatosaurus louisae, for instance - one of the largest of the dinos - was actually far more svelte than had been thought, its weight having been overestimated by no less than 20 tonnes. The Giraffatitan (aka Brachiosaurus) was actually 16 tonnes less portly than formerly estimated.

Packard and his fellow boffins worked from the same information regarding dinosaur bone measurements as previous scientists, but rather than using back-transformation from logarithmic form - which of course any fule kno is not what you do when estimating lizard body mass from bone measurements, tchoh - they instead used equations fitted by nonlinear regression.

In support of their calculations, the dino revisionists point out that their method, applied to bones from an actual elephant, suggested that the elephant should weigh 5.9 tonnes, which is what it actually did weigh. The old school back-transformation-from-logs method, on the other hand, gave an unflatteringly porky picture, suggesting that the experimental dumbo was actually several tonnes heavier than it really was.

In other words, the traditional image of lardy earth-shaking dinosaurs as popularised in Jurassic Park, The Lost World etc etc is deeply flawed. In fact, the mighty lizards of old were (comparatively) slender, dainty and light on their feet.

The scholarly paper Allometric equations for predicting body mass of dinosaurs is published in the (subscription) Journal of Zoology. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.