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Downsizing a giant: Re-evaluating Dreadnoughtus body mass

Bates, KT and Falkingham, PL and Macaulay, S and Brassey, C and Maidment, SCR (2015) Downsizing a giant: Re-evaluating Dreadnoughtus body mass. Biology Letters, 11. pp. 1-6. ISSN 1744-957X

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Abstract

Estimates of body mass often represent the founding assumption on which biomechanical and macroevolutionary hypotheses are based. Recently, a scaling equation was applied to a newly discovered titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur (Dreadnoughtus), yielding a 59 300 kg body mass estimate for this animal. Herein, we use a modelling approach to examine the plausibility of this mass estimate for Dreadnoughtus. We find that 59 300 kg for Dreadnoughtus is highly implausible and demonstrate that masses above 40 000 kg require high body densities and expansions of soft tissue volume outside the skeleton several times greater than found in living quadrupedal mammals. Similar results from a small sample of other archosaurs suggests that lower-end mass estimates derived from scaling equations are most plausible for Dreadnoughtus, based on existing volumetric and density data from extant animals. Although volumetric models appear to more tightly constrain dinosaur body mass, there remains a clear need to further support these models with more exhaustive data from living animals. The relative and absolute discrepancies in mass predictions between volumetric models and scaling equations also indicate a need to systematically compare predictions across a wide size and taxonomic range to better inform studies of dinosaur body size.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2015 08:58
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2016 23:50
DOI or Identification number: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0215
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1168

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