The longest animal that ever lived just got 40 percent shorter. A reappraisal of Seismosaurus has chopped it from 170 feet – about the length of ten hummers – to about 110 feet – a bit more than six hummers. The new look at the lengthiest beast also suggests it might also be a very close relative of a more common type of dino –Diplodocus.
Though drastically shorter, the new length estimate does not necessarily knock Seismosaurus off the throne as the Earths longest creature, says paleontologist Spencer Lucas of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. On the other hand, it does bring Seismosaurus within the range of the lengthiest living animal – the blue whale, which runs about 100 feet. A poster explaining how Lucas and his team arrived at the new measure of the longest animal will be presented on Tuesday afternoon, 9 Nov., at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver. "The bottom line is its very, very hard to estimate length of dinosaurs from isolated bones," says Lucas. "These estimates are not ideal."
The key to resizing Seismosaurus, he says, was knowing where to place tail vertebrae of the incomplete, lone known specimen. Earlier researchers decided the tail, or caudal, vertebrae belonged far down the tail, meaning that to taper to an end after these vertebrae, the dinos tail had to trail on for a good distance more.
Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
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