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      Estimating Mass Properties of Dinosaurs Using Laser Imaging and 3D Computer Modelling

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          Abstract

          Body mass reconstructions of extinct vertebrates are most robust when complete to near-complete skeletons allow the reconstruction of either physical or digital models. Digital models are most efficient in terms of time and cost, and provide the facility to infinitely modify model properties non-destructively, such that sensitivity analyses can be conducted to quantify the effect of the many unknown parameters involved in reconstructions of extinct animals. In this study we use laser scanning (LiDAR) and computer modelling methods to create a range of 3D mass models of five specimens of non-avian dinosaur; two near-complete specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex, the most complete specimens of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis and Strutiomimum sedens, and a near-complete skeleton of a sub-adult Edmontosaurus annectens. LiDAR scanning allows a full mounted skeleton to be imaged resulting in a detailed 3D model in which each bone retains its spatial position and articulation. This provides a high resolution skeletal framework around which the body cavity and internal organs such as lungs and air sacs can be reconstructed. This has allowed calculation of body segment masses, centres of mass and moments or inertia for each animal. However, any soft tissue reconstruction of an extinct taxon inevitably represents a best estimate model with an unknown level of accuracy. We have therefore conducted an extensive sensitivity analysis in which the volumes of body segments and respiratory organs were varied in an attempt to constrain the likely maximum plausible range of mass parameters for each animal. Our results provide wide ranges in actual mass and inertial values, emphasizing the high level of uncertainty inevitable in such reconstructions. However, our sensitivity analysis consistently places the centre of mass well below and in front of hip joint in each animal, regardless of the chosen combination of body and respiratory structure volumes. These results emphasize that future biomechanical assessments of extinct taxa should be preceded by a detailed investigation of the plausible range of mass properties, in which sensitivity analyses are used to identify a suite of possible values to be tested as inputs in analytical models.

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          Most cited references81

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          Biomechanics and Motor Control of Human Movement

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            Scaling body support in mammals: limb posture and muscle mechanics.

            The scaling of bone and muscle geometry in mammals suggests that peak stresses (ratio of force to cross-sectional area) acting in these two support elements increase with increasing body size. Observations of stresses acting in the limb bones of different sized mammals during strenuous activity, however, indicate that peak bone stress is independent of size (maintaining a safety factor of between 2 and 4). It appears that similar peak bone stresses and muscle stresses in large and small mammals are achieved primarily by a size-dependent change in locomotor limb posture: small animals run with crouched postures, whereas larger species run more upright. By adopting an upright posture, large animals align their limbs more closely with the ground reaction force, substantially reducing the forces that their muscles must exert (proportional to body mass) and hence, the forces that their bones must resist, to counteract joint moments. This change in limb posture to maintain locomotor stresses within safe limits, however, likely limits the maneuverability and accelerative capability of large animals.
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              Pelvic and hindlimb musculature of Tyrannosaurus rex (Dinosauria: Theropoda).

              In this article, we develop a new reconstruction of the pelvic and hindlimb muscles of the large theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex. Our new reconstruction relies primarily on direct examination of both extant and fossil turtles, lepidosaurs, and archosaurs. These observations are placed into a phylogenetic context and data from extant taxa are used to constrain inferences concerning the soft-tissue structures in T. rex. Using this extant phylogenetic bracket, we are able to offer well-supported inferences concerning most of the hindlimb musculature in this taxon. We also refrain from making any inferences for certain muscles where the resulting optimizations are ambiguous. This reconstruction differs from several previous attempts and we evaluate these discrepancies. In addition to providing a new and more detailed understanding of the hindlimb morphology of T. rex--the largest known terrestrial biped--this reconstruction also helps to clarify the sequence of character-state change along the line to extant birds. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2009
                19 February 2009
                : 4
                : 2
                : e4532
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Adaptive Organismal Biology Research Group, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Jackson's Mill, Manchester, United Kingdom
                [2 ]The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
                [3 ]School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
                Quinnipiac University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: KTB WS. Performed the experiments: KTB. Analyzed the data: KTB. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: KTB MLP HD WS. Wrote the paper: KTB.

                Article
                08-PONE-RA-05685R1
                10.1371/journal.pone.0004532
                2639725
                19225569
                7ad96b68-3074-4faa-b072-5fde7a66c60d
                Bates et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                History
                : 28 July 2008
                : 13 January 2009
                Page count
                Pages: 26
                Categories
                Research Article
                Computer Science
                Ecology
                Evolutionary Biology/Paleontology

                Uncategorized
                Uncategorized

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