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Famous Stegosaurus Weighs Staggering 3500 Pounds

Mar 04, 2015 02:03 PM EST

Usually you never ask a woman her weight, but in this case scientists had to make an exception. A famous Stegosaurus stenops named Sophie at the Natural History Museum of London was recently weighed in at nearly a staggering 3,500 pounds, based a new method that not only is revealing more about this particular dinosaur species, but could also shed light on other dinosaurs as well.

The results were published in the journal Biology Letters.

Paleontologists have normally guessed the mass of long-extinct dinosaurs by making estimates based on the size of their thigh and upper arm bones. Now, using Sophie, the world's most complete Stegosaurus, they have achieved their most accurate measurement yet.

Before this 150-year-old dinosaur was put on display at the museum in 2014, researchers scanned all 360 bones in Sophie's skeleton - that's about 80 percent of all her bones. Using this 3D model, they then made digital recreations of the dino bones and calculated their volume, which in turn could be translated into mass using comparisons to similar modern animals.

The result? Sophie apparently tipped the scales at approximately 3,527 pounds (1.6 tons) - that's about the size of a small rhino. This helped researchers paint a more accurate picture of the animal's weight.

"Calculating body mass in animals that have been dead for many millions of years is no easy task, and there are several different ways to do it," co-author Susannah Maidment of Imperial College London said in a news release. "Often different methods come up with very different results."

"Our study," she added, "is the first to attempt different methods on the same animal, and has highlighted how and why different body mass estimation methods come up with different results. The age of the animal when it died is very important."

By combining a 3D model with the more traditional technique, scientists hope to learn more about how this Stegosaurus and other prehistoric creatures lived.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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