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Data from: Body mass estimates of an exceptionally complete Stegosaurus (Ornithischia: Thyreophora): comparing volumetric and linear bivariate mass estimation methods

Citation

Brassey, Charlotte A.; Maidment, Susannah, C. R.; Barrett, Paul, M.; Barrett, P. M. (2015), Data from: Body mass estimates of an exceptionally complete Stegosaurus (Ornithischia: Thyreophora): comparing volumetric and linear bivariate mass estimation methods, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2307m

Abstract

Body mass is a key biological variable, but difficult to assess from fossils. Various techniques exist for estimating body mass from skeletal parameters, but few studies have compared outputs from different methods. Here, we apply several mass estimation methods to an exceptionally complete skeleton of the dinosaur Stegosaurus. Applying a volumetric convex-hulling technique to a digital model of Stegosaurus, we estimate a mass of 1560 kg (95% prediction interval 1082–2256 kg) for this individual. By contrast, bivariate equations based on limb dimensions predict values between 2355 and 3751 kg and require implausible amounts of soft tissue and/or high body densities. When corrected for ontogenetic scaling, however, volumetric and linear equations are brought into close agreement. Our results raise concerns regarding the application of predictive equations to extinct taxa with no living analogues in terms of overall morphology and highlight the sensitivity of bivariate predictive equations to the ontogenetic status of the specimen. We emphasize the significance of rare, complete fossil skeletons in validating widely applied mass estimation equations based on incomplete skeletal material and stress the importance of accurately determining specimen age prior to further analyses.

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Location

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Wyoming