|Marco Foronda |||Mar 04, 2015 09:11 AM EST|
Sophie the Stegosaurus
Scientists at a British museum have worked out the weight of Sophie, one of the world's most complete Stegosaurus skeletons.
London's Natural History Museum says Sophie, a young adult when it died, weighed around 1.6 tons and was about the same size as a small rhinoceros. It lived 150 million years ago.
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Scientists worked out the dinosaur's body mass after creating a 3D digital version of its skeleton, calculating the volume of flesh around the bones and comparing the data with information from similar-sized modern animals.
Researchers next converted these results into a body mass using data collected from similar modern animals. They believe their results are as accurate as possible for now because the results are in close agreement when compared to figures calculated using the alternative method of measuring leg bone circumference in conjunction with the overall weight of various living animals.
The skeleton, which is 85 percent intact, greets visitors entering the museum. It was discovered in 2003 at Red Canyon Ranch in Wyoming.
"Now we know the weight, we can start to find out more about its metabolism, feeding requirements and the growth rates of Stegosaurus. We can also use the same techniques on other complete fossils to find out much more about the wider ecology of dinosaurs," said Paul Barrett, lead dinosaur researcher at the museum.
The techniques are now considered the most accurate way of measuring body weight from nearly complete fossil skeletons.
"Calculating body mass in animals that have been dead for many millions of years is no easy task, and there are several different ways to do it," said co-author Susannah Maidment of Imperial College London. "Often different methods come up with very different results."
The detailed method for estimating the dinosaur's weight could also be used to more accurately estimate the weight of other dinosaurs.
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