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Re: How much does a dino weigh?



> Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 09:28:44 -0500
> From: "Thomas R. Holtz, Jr." <tholtz@geol.umd.edu>
> 
> So, errors of 25% might not be unexpected for mass calculations on
> good specimens, and much greater for incomplete forms.

Wow.  I'm amazed that the error is so small.  I suppose I'm thinking
particularly of the various Brachiosaurus mass estimates, which seem
to vary from 80 tonnes (Colbert 1962) all the way down to 32 tonnes
(Greg Paul, Anderson et al.)  The geometric mean of these is a neat 50
tonnes, so we're talking about a variation of about 60% _either side_
of that!

Any idea what's going on here?

> Of course, the real test for this would be taking a number of
> skeletons of different modern taxa from individuals whose life mass
> was known, then estimating the mass from the skeleton, then
> comparing these estimates to the known mass.

Yes yes yes!

> As you might imagine, this would be a sizable and time-consuming
> effort.  Nevertheless, it would give some statistical idea as to the
> expected accuracy of mass calcuations based on fossil bones.

And no-one has done this?  Quick, get this man some funding!

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor -- <mirk@mail.org> -- http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/
)_v__/\  "Heaven forbid!  I am one who delights in all manifestations
         of the Terpsichorean muse!" -- Monty Python.