4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Geriatric dinosaurs?

Hi Matt:

Dinos got really, really huge. What was their life span anyway, on average...say, for a full-grown T. rex? They must have lived a long time to grow as gigantic as they did.

Sponsored
Sponsored

-- TNT, the net

Of course, nobody knows absolutely, for sure, bet-the-rent, no arguments. Despite the fact that there is no real answer to your question, we'll waste this week's allotted space answering it. I love my job.

Dinos ranged from mouse size to house size, so life span was probably a variable thing. And based on skeletal evidence, dinos lived on the edge. Always getting into scraps with the neighbors, suffering drought and infections, dodging predators. Unlikely that many lived long enough to collect a pension. Dinosaur metabolism is another mystery, but it would have influenced growth-rate patterns and longevity. Most warm-blooded critters live fast, die young. Relatively speaking, anyway.

When paleontologists took their first swat at calculating dino life span, they estimated the mass of whatever species they were looking at and cranked that figure through equations based on known growth rates of similar animals. Age estimates ranged from maybe 100 to 250+ years. But since dinos are similar to both birds and crocodiles, for instance, these calculations were pretty much a crap shoot. As were guesses at the mass of a given dinosaur in the first place.

Recently we've studied dino bones kind of like you'd age a tree by its growth rings. So far the research suggests the animals grew rapidly at first, then stopped growing at some genetically determined point, more like warm-blooded animals than like crocs, which grow slowly and continuously. Estimates from these studies say some animals may have lived only a decade, while others took three, five, or more decades just to reach full size, and the hardiest might have lived more than a century. Of course, as some investigators point out, if calcium was absorbed out of the bones, that's another monkey wrench in the calculations.

As for your beloved T. rexes, few have been found, and they've all been roughly the same size. Without babies and juvies to study as well, there's not enough to go on. We may never know enough about any dinos to make reliable life span estimates. But at least you now have an idea of the kind of thing that fills up the hours in a scientist's life span.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The $100,000 gamble in Mission Hills

Editor's picks of Reader stories by David Steinman
Next Article

Peutz Valley – the fire did not kill our spirit

Alpine Planning Group, SDGE power cuts, no high school yet, Farlin Rd. after Viejas fire, coyote woman on Deercreek Canyon, Alpine Beer Co.

Hi Matt:

Dinos got really, really huge. What was their life span anyway, on average...say, for a full-grown T. rex? They must have lived a long time to grow as gigantic as they did.

Sponsored
Sponsored

-- TNT, the net

Of course, nobody knows absolutely, for sure, bet-the-rent, no arguments. Despite the fact that there is no real answer to your question, we'll waste this week's allotted space answering it. I love my job.

Dinos ranged from mouse size to house size, so life span was probably a variable thing. And based on skeletal evidence, dinos lived on the edge. Always getting into scraps with the neighbors, suffering drought and infections, dodging predators. Unlikely that many lived long enough to collect a pension. Dinosaur metabolism is another mystery, but it would have influenced growth-rate patterns and longevity. Most warm-blooded critters live fast, die young. Relatively speaking, anyway.

When paleontologists took their first swat at calculating dino life span, they estimated the mass of whatever species they were looking at and cranked that figure through equations based on known growth rates of similar animals. Age estimates ranged from maybe 100 to 250+ years. But since dinos are similar to both birds and crocodiles, for instance, these calculations were pretty much a crap shoot. As were guesses at the mass of a given dinosaur in the first place.

Recently we've studied dino bones kind of like you'd age a tree by its growth rings. So far the research suggests the animals grew rapidly at first, then stopped growing at some genetically determined point, more like warm-blooded animals than like crocs, which grow slowly and continuously. Estimates from these studies say some animals may have lived only a decade, while others took three, five, or more decades just to reach full size, and the hardiest might have lived more than a century. Of course, as some investigators point out, if calcium was absorbed out of the bones, that's another monkey wrench in the calculations.

As for your beloved T. rexes, few have been found, and they've all been roughly the same size. Without babies and juvies to study as well, there's not enough to go on. We may never know enough about any dinos to make reliable life span estimates. But at least you now have an idea of the kind of thing that fills up the hours in a scientist's life span.

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Gonzo Report: Bang Bang’s Tokyo subway motif and Chicago house music

It’s a restaurant, it’s a nightclub, it’s a dope photo op
Next Article

Frogmen sleuths used by Bill Koch against other yachtsmen

Editor's picks of stories by Bill Salisbury
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close