Science News

Rich Pickings For Dinosaur Diggers

Sat, 9th Sep 2006

Part of the show Hot Nectar, Warming Weather and Birds Missing the Spring

Good news this week for any of our listeners who are budding palaeontologists - there are still plenty of dinosaurs out there to discover. That's according to a new study by Steve Wang, a statistician at Swathmore College, Pennsylvania and Peter Dodson, a palaeontologist at the University of Pennsylvania in the US. They looked at the number of skeletons found so far from each known dinosaur genus (that's one group bigger than species - so humans are homo sapiens which means we belong to the homo genus and sapiens species). They plugging those numbers into an established mathematical model which links the fossil sightings to the likely number of unseen dinosaurs and they predicted that there could have been a total of about 18 hundred and 50 genera of dinosaurs in the world, of which we have so far only found 527, so there should be plenty more out there. But we will never find every last dinosaurs because not all of them will have left fossils behind and the diversity of dinosaurs that we have found is biased by the availability of fossiliferrous rock outcrops. but, the good news is that around about 90% of the dinosaurs which are discoverable will probably be found within the next 100 to 140 years. So if you're hoping to discover something fiercer than a T-Rex or bigger than a giganotosaurus then it's definitely still worth getting out there to have a good look.

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