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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. 

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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.

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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+.

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