Dinosaurs May Have Been Taller

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | October 5, 2010 | Comment Now

Gist of the Matter:

It may have seemed obvious that the leg bone of the dinosaur was connected to the hip bone; but what was it that came in between these bones wasn’t such an obvious point. As per research conducted by the University of Ohio and the University of Missouri, the dinosaurs may have had thick layers of cartilage that played the role of the ‘joining component’ in the joints. This would mean that these dinosaurs may have been significantly taller than we’ve estimated them to be all these years. This study will soon be published in the journal called PLoS ONE (Public Library of Science).

The Study Says:

According to the study conducted on the limbs of the modern-day relatives of the dinosaur family, the dinosaurs may have been significantly taller than they were originally estimated to be. The femur and the tibia and various other bones of the dinosaurs were taken into consideration and it was found that these bones were rounded at the ends and they lacked any articulating structures like the condyles. These are ideally bony projections. This was indication of the fact that there must have been very thick cartilages which helped in forming these structures.

Given this fact the joint themselves may have been capable of adding a lot of height to the dinosaurs.

The Study Used Ostriches and Alligator’s Bones:

Animals like ostriches and alligators are considered to be the modern day relatives of the dinosaur family. Their bone structures were studied and then compared to the fossilized versions of the various limbs of dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brachiosaurus, Allosaurus and the Triceratops. The team determined, at the end of it, that the length of ostrich and alligator limbs had up to around 6 to 10 percent of cartilage and this may have well been the case with the dinosaurs as well.

Using what they called ‘cartilage correction factor’, the team determined that there were a lot of dinosaurs that may have only been modestly taller; but then again, there was also the other category that may have been up to around 10% taller than the heights we’d earlier estimated them to be at.

Bones Speaking:

This study is significant because it shouts out a clear message – Bones can’t always speak for themselves. In order to make sense of these bones, it would be necessary to place them in a setting where even the cartilage is taken into consideration. The structures of dinosaurs that are mounted in museums are not really close to the real structure of these animals because a lot of cartilage caps and soft tissue have been lost along the way.  If there is a method of gauging how much cartilage was lost, it would help in allowing for a better understanding and restoration of the dinosaur bone. This would provide a fresh insight into the understanding of how these huge animals lived and moved around earth.

Understanding the structures of these soft tissues that have now been lost may have a lot to offer than just the correct restoration of bones. Any sort of increase in the limb might ideally mean that the dinosaur would be taller, the way in which affects the skeleton would also help tell us whether the dinosaur was slower or faster.

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