Feeds

Dinosaurs actually slimmer than we thought, say boffins

Unfeasibly lardy elephant exposes duff calculations

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.