Laser imaging investigates how fat or thin dinos were

February 21st, 2009 - 12:44 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 21 (ANI): Scientists at the University of Manchester, UK, are using laser imaging to investigate how fat or thin Tyrannosaurus Rex and his fellow dinosaurs were.

Karl Bates and his colleagues in the palaeontology and biomechanics research group have reconstructed the bodies of five dinosaurs, two T. rex (Stan at the Manchester Museum and the Museum of the Rockies cast MOR555), an Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, a Strutiomimum sedens and an Edmontosaurus annectens.

The team found that the smaller Museum of the Rockies T. rex could have weighed anywhere between 5.5 and 7 tonnes, while the larger specimen might have weighed as much as 8 tonnes.

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis was a large predatory dinosaur that looked like T. rex, but with large spines on its back and roamed the earth much earlier in the mid Cretaceous period, around 110 million years ago.

The team suggests that Acrocanthosaurus probably weighed in at a similar mass to MOR555 and other medium sized adult T. rex at about 6 tonnes.

The Strutiomimum sedens, whose name means ostrich mimic, lived alongside T. rex in the late Cretaceous period and probably weighed somewhere between 0.4 0.6 tonnes

The reconstruction of Edmontosaurus annectens, a plant-eating hadrosaur was based on a juvenile specimen, but still weighed in at between 0.8 0.95 tonnes.

The team used laser scanning (LiDAR) and computer modelling methods to create a range of 3D models of the specimens, attempting to reconstruct their body sizes and shape as in life.

This has allowed calculation of body segment masses, centres of mass and moments of inertia for each animal all the information that is needed to analyze body movements.

Having created their best-guess reconstruction of each animal, they then varied the volumes of body segments and respiratory organs to find the maximum plausible range of mass for the animals.

According to the team, the lower weight estimates are most likely to be correct as there is no good reason for the dinosaurs to weigh more than they need to as this would affect their speed, energy use and demands on the respiratory system.

Our technique allows people to see and decide for themselves how fat or thin the dinosaurs might have been in life. You can see the skeleton with a belly, Karl said.

Anyone from a five-year-old to a Professor can see it and say, I think this reconstruction is too fat or too thin, he added. (ANI)

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