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Study aims to define the size of dinosaurs

Researchers have conducted a study that suggests dinosaurs were made to be a much bigger creatures than present day animals. The study focused on comparing the sizes of extinct and modern species and ultimately revealed that the world of the dinosaurs was much different from the one we know today.

To date, some dinosaurs are among the largest animals to ever walk on Earth. The biggest dinosaurs developed first, including the sauropods with giant necks and tails that evolved approximately 200 million years ago.

Previously, many scientists believed dinosaurs as a whole were not larger than modern day animals. David Hone, of Queen Mary University of London, used to believe that it was just his familiarity with the larger dinosaurs that distorted his perception. “Turns out, nope, there really were tons and tons of big guys out there and not many little ones,” he told LiveScience.

In order to compare the sizes of dinosaurs to modern animals, Hone and Eoin O’Gorman, also of Queen Mary University, studied the sizes of many present day birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and terrestrial mammals. They then compared these size measurements to the size of dinosaurs, the pterosaurs an ancient winged reptile, and extinct terrestrial mammals.

The ecologists studied the sizes of thousands of creatures, which included over 330 types of dinosaurs. Their results revealed that the dinosaurs, more than any other species studied, were made up of mostly giant animals.

Hone points out the fact that there may be a flaw in their conclusions: did fossils of larger dinosaurs just survive better than those of small ones? “Indeed, large things do tend to be more readily preserved and smaller ones harder to find, so we would expect there to be a bias in the results towards larger species,” he said.

Despite this doubt, Hone doesn’t think it effects the validity of their data. “First off, the differences are so colossal that the amount of small species missing would be truly enormous, and it’s unlikely we, as in the scientific community, have missed that many,” he said.

In fact, in order to not suggest that dinosaurs faved large sizes, 99.99 percent of the species’ diversity would have to been lots or waiting to be found. Additionally, if the skew in large sizes in dinosaurs was due to loss of fossils, a similar effect would be expected in the other prehistoric animals studied. No such conclusion was found for the pterosaurs, which was a close ancestor of the dinosaur.

Hone and O’Gorman are likely to continue studying the size differences in dinosaurs and other animals. Hone is particularly interested in studying fish to validate the dinosaur results he and his colleague found for this study.