Largest dinosaur is brought to digital life

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

dino model
It took the equivalent of 30,000 computers to make this? I guess it must be super detailed when you zoom in!

Even though dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth, scientists can estimate what they looked like based on their fossils. In fact, they know one of the world’s largest dinos was the Argentinosaurus, and with a computer program called Gaitsym, the large beast was brought to digital life.

For their study, researchers from the University of Manchester scanned the 113-foot long skeleton of an Argentinosaurus with a cool laser. From there, technology equal to 30,000 desktop computers made a digital model of the plant-eating creature that could actually walk! Or, perhaps I should say crawl, because according to the scientists, these creatures weighed up to 80 tons, and wormed around at a mere 5 miles per hour.

“The simulation shows a slow walking gait, which is to be expected, given that the animal weighs 80 tons,” said lead researcher Bill Sellers from the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences. “What is interesting is how well the simulated footfall pattern matches up with typical sauropod trackways,” he said, referring to dinosaurs with long necks and stubby legs.

Besides making it possible to watch a digital dinosaur walk before our very eyes, this project can actually help researchers learn about our own skeletons and muscles (musculoskeletal system). Since the long dinosaurs are so large, they really pushed their bodies to the limits, which can reveal what our own bag of bones is capable of.

Featured image courtesy of Claudio Bustos on Flickr. Image of dinosaur model courtesy of Alison Barbuti on YouTube.