According to the study, published in the journal Biology Letters, scientists laser scanned several skeletons of modern-day mammals in order to measure the minimum amount of skin needed to cover them.
“One of the most important things palaeobiologists need to know about fossilized animals is how much they weighed. This is surprisingly difficult, so we have been testing a new approach. We laser scanned various large mammal skeletons, including polar bear, giraffe and elephant, and calculated the minimum wrapping volume of the main skeletal sections,” said the lead author Bill Sellers.
The results showed that the studied animals had about 21 percent more body mass than the minimum skeletal volume.
“We showed that the actual volume is reliably 21% more than this value, so we then laser scanned the Berlin Brachiosaur, Giraffatitan brancai, calculating the skin and bone wrapping volume and added 21%. We found that the giant herbivore weighed 23 tons, supporting the view that these animals were much lighter than traditionally thought,” Sellers added.
Previous measurements had estimated weight of as high as 80 tons for Brachiosaur.
Sellers also noted that, “Volumetric methods are becoming more common as techniques for estimating the body masses of fossil vertebrates but they are often accused of excessive subjective input when estimating the thickness of missing soft tissue.”
Researchers have pointed out that the new method of measurement can be applied to all dinosaurs.