Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seismosaur cut down to size

05.11.2004


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 Earth’s 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 it’s 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 dino’s tail had to trail on for a good distance more.


To figure out if the initial placement of the caudal vertebrae was correct, Lucas and his colleagues scaled up a smaller, similar Diplodocus dinosaur to compare its caudal vertebrae. What they discovered was that instead of placing the caudal vertebrae as numbers 20 through 27 on the tail, they fit better higher up the tail as numbers 12 through 19. That was enough to shorten the estimated length of the animal by about 60 feet. "The more defensible estimate is 33 meters (110 feet)," Lucas concluded. The comparison to Diplodocus has also raised the possibility that Seismosaurus doesn’t really belongs in its own genus. It’s arguable, Lucas says, that Seismosaurus is just a big new species of Diplodocus. If so, it could get a scientific name change from Seismosaurus hallorum to Diplodocus hallorum. The more earthshaking name "Seismosaur" would likely endure, however, as sort of a "stage name," says Lucas.

The new, revised Seismosaurus length is already incorporated into the Age of Giants exhibit which opened in August at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. In fact it was because of plans for the exhibit that Lucas and his colleagues decided to recheck the length of Seismosaurus, he said. All that is known about Seismosaurus comes from fossilized bones from the hip and part of the back of a single skeleton found in ancient riverbank deposits near San Ysidro, New Mexico in 1979. It was plain before the fossilized bones were extracted from the ground that this was an exceptionally large animal – even for a dinosaur.

The actual fossil remains of Seismosaurus are now on public display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque.

Reappraisal of Seismosaurus, A Late Jurassic
Sauropod Dinosaur From New Mexico
Tuesday, November 9, 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
CCC Exhibit Hall
Abstract may be viewed at: http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2004AM/finalprogram/abstract_77727.htm.

CONTACT INFORMATION
During the GSA Annual Meeting, 7-10 November, contact Ann Cairns at the GSA Newsroom, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, for assistance and to arrange for interviews: 303-228-8570.

Geological Society of America
116th Annual Meeting
7-10 November 2004
Colorado Convention Center

Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geosociety.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Volcanoes and glaciers combine as powerful methane producers
20.11.2018 | Lancaster University

nachricht Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland
15.11.2018 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>