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RE: How much does a dino weigh?



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Mike Taylor
>
> > 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?
>

Yeah: the models some people used were crap.  Tom's Rule Number One in
dinosaur restorations: if you can't fit the skeleton inside the model, the
model is wrong.

> > 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!

Hey, I've got other stuff to do!!

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796