Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Dinosaurs actually weren't that heavy, finds study (+video)

A comparison of dinosaur skeletons with those of living mammals suggests that the ancient reptiles were tens of tons lighter than previously believed. 

(Page 2 of 2)

Bony Brachiosaurus

Comparing the number that came out of their mathematical analysis with what science actually knows about the living species they chose, the researchers saw that that the weights were reliably about 20 percent more than the minimum volume. If this also held true for dinosaurs, such as the large dinosaur known as Brachiosaurus (now called Giraffatitan brancai), the researchers said, many have overestimated the beast's weight.

Skip to next paragraph

The researchers then used the same laser-scan technique on the Berlin Brachiosaurus, a nearly complete skeleton of the large sauropod. When they calculated the wrapping volume and added 20 percent, they found the big dinosaur came in at around 25 tons (almost 23 tonnes; a ton is 2,000 pounds and a tonne is 1,000 kilograms).

This weight is a lot less than historical estimates, which average about 34.7 tons (31.5 tonnes) and  ranged up to 88 tons (80 tonnes).

The new analysis comes closer to more modern estimates of the sauropod's weight at 18 tons (16 tonnes) from a report in the Journal of Zoology in 2009.

The study is detailed in the June 6 issue of the journal Biology Letters.

Follow Jennifer Welsh on Twitter @microbelover or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!