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Was weaker gravity responsible for large dinosaur size?

25 Feb 2013, 15:02 UTC
Was weaker gravity responsible for large dinosaur size?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

How did the sauropods—the long-necked dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Diplodocus that grew to be the largest land animals that ever lived—get so huge? The full answer to that question is complicated and interesting, involving a lot of science I don’t know. Come to think of it, the true answer involves a lot of physics I [...]

Most of a Supersaurus vertebra, with paleontologist glamor shot for reference. The shape of the bone identifies it as a sauropod, and its size of the fragment marks it as one of the largest land animals that ever lived. [Credit: Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week/Mike Taylor; caption corrected from previous version]How did the sauropods—the long-necked dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Diplodocus that grew to be the largest land animals that ever lived—get so huge? The full answer to that question is complicated and interesting, involving a lot of science I don’t know. Come to think of it, the true answer involves a lot of physics I don’t know: calculating the compressive strength of bones, the fluid dynamics involved in getting blood from the heart up to the head, and so forth. So, I’ll leave unabashed sauropod snuggler Brian Switek to talk about ...

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