Downsizing a giant: re-evaluating Dreadnoughtus body mass

Bates, Karl T ORCID: 0000-0002-0048-141X, Falkingham, Peter L, Macaulay, Sophie, Brassey, Charlotte and Maidment, Susannah CR
(2015) Downsizing a giant: re-evaluating Dreadnoughtus body mass. Biology Letters, 11 (6).

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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: Dreadnoughtus, body mass, modelling, scaling equations
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2016 15:59
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 16:13
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0215
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