Dino Dwarf: Island living may have led to ancient downsizing

9:06am, November 10, 2004

Fossils unearthed in a German quarry hint that members of one species of dinosaur that lived in the region 152 million years ago evolved to be abnormally small—only 6 meters long and weighing a ton or so. That midget stature might have resulted from constraints of an island ecosystem.

The new species falls in the group of plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods, which included the largest land creatures that ever lived. Brachiosaurus, a moderate-size sauropod, grew to a length of 23 m and tipped the scale at around 50 tons, says Martin Sander of the University of Bonn in Germany. Brachiosaurus' thighbone alone could measure 2.2 m, taller than basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.

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