High tech demystifies giant dinos’ feeding habitsJuly 17th, 2012 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS
London, July 17 (IANS) Technology employed in designing racing cars and airplanes also helped researchers demystify the feeding habits of giant dinosaurs 150 million years ago.
A team of researchers, led by the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum, used CT scans and biomechanical modelling to show that Diplodocus - one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered - had a skull adapted to strip leaves from tree branches.
The Diplodocus is a sauropod from the Jurassic Period and one of the longest animals to have lived on Earth, measuring over 30 metres in length and weighing around 15 tonnes, the journal Naturwissenschaften reports.
While known to be massive herbivores, there has been great debate about exactly how they ate such large quantities of plants. The aberrant Diplodocus, with its long snout and protruding peg-like teeth restricted to the very front of its mouth, has been the centre of such controversy, according to a Bristol statement.
To solve the mystery, a 3D model of a complete Diplodocus skull was created using data from a CT scan. This model was then biomechanically analysed to test three feeding behaviours using finite element analysis (FEA).
FEA is widely used, from designing aeroplanes to orthopaedic implants. It revealed the various stresses and strains acting on the Diplodocus’ skull during feeding to determine whether the skull or teeth would break under certain conditions.
The team that made this discovery was led by Emily Rayfield of Bristol University’s School of Earth Sciences and Paul Barrett of The Natural History Museum in London. Mark Young, former student working at both institutions, ran the analyses during his PhD.
Barrett added: “Using these techniques, borrowed from the worlds of engineering and medicine, we can start to examine the feeding behaviour of this long-extinct animal in levels of detail which were simply impossible until recently.”
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Tags: 3d model, aeroplanes, bristol university, ct scan, diplodocus, earth sciences, extinct animal, finite element analysis, giant dinosaurs, great debate, herbivores, jurassic period, million years, natural history museum, naturwissenschaften, paul barrett, racing cars, sauropod, snout, university of bristol