Paleontologists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who published an article in the journal PLoSOne, offer a fresh look at the nature of giant lizards.
Dinosaurs are considered the largest of all animals that have ever walked on Earth. Giants such as the long-necked herbivorous Argentinosaurus could reach 35 meters in length and weigh 50 tons - modern land mammals are much smaller. The well-known Tyrannosaurus rex is not even one of the ten largest dinosaurs, but with its 12 meters in length and 8 tons of weight, it is at least twice as large as the combed crocodile, which is considered the largest of modern land animals.
How did they manage to exist with such dimensions? Probably, dinosaurs bypassed some of the biological limitations that determine the size of mammals because they did not bear cubs, but laid eggs. But there was another reason, which the authors of the new article report: the dinosaurs were helped to achieve huge sizes by the peculiarity of their bones - they were very light.
Using a bone scan, the scientists studied the cancellous bones of dinosaurs. Spongy, or trabecular, bone is found in bones that need to be strong and flexible at the same time, such as the human wrist. It turned out that the cancellous bone in dinosaurs is organized differently than in mammals: it is not so dense, but at the same time strong. Thanks to this, dinosaurs were able to maintain gigantic body sizes that are not observed in animals today.
According to the authors of the study, their results can be useful not only for paleontologists, but also for engineers - when designing objects that must combine lightness and strength, such as bridges and space shuttles.
In the photo: it looked like an Argentinosaurus, one of the largest dinosaurs in history.