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Re: Stegosaurus body mass (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A personal take by Charlotte Brassey on estimating the mass of a
still-growing Stegosaurus:


On Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 8:22 AM, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:
> Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> A new online paper (free pdf):
> Charlotte A. Brassey , Susannah C. R. Maidment & Paul M. Barrett (2015)
> Body mass estimates of an exceptionally complete Stegosaurus
> (Ornithischia: Thyreophora): comparing volumetric and linear bivariate
> mass estimation methods.
> Biology Letters (advance online publication)
> DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0984
> http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/11/3/20140984
> http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roybiolett/11/3/20140984.full.pdf
> Body mass is a key biological variable, but difficult to assess from
> fossils. Various techniques exist for estimating body mass from
> skeletal parameters, but few studies have compared outputs from
> different methods. Here, we apply several mass estimation methods to
> an exceptionally complete skeleton of the dinosaur Stegosaurus.
> Applying a volumetric convex-hulling technique to a digital model of
> Stegosaurus, we estimate a mass of 1560 kg (95% prediction interval
> 1082–2256 kg) for this individual. By contrast, bivariate equations
> based on limb dimensions predict values between 2355 and 3751 kg and
> require implausible amounts of soft tissue and/or high body densities.
> When corrected for ontogenetic scaling, however, volumetric and linear
> equations are brought into close agreement. Our results raise concerns
> regarding the application of predictive equations to extinct taxa with
> no living analogues in terms of overall morphology and highlight the
> sensitivity of bivariate predictive equations to the ontogenetic
> status of the specimen. We emphasize the significance of rare,
> complete fossil skeletons in validating widely applied mass estimation
> equations based on incomplete skeletal material and stress the
> importance of accurately determining specimen age prior to further
> analyses.
> News:
> http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/2015/march/weight-of-the-worlds-most-complete-stegosaurus-revealed134200.html
> http://phys.org/news/2015-03-museum-workers-digitally-recreate-stegosaurus.html
> http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31712957