"Most estimates of dinosaur height simply stack the limb elements on top of one another without accounting for the soft tissues that were once present in the living animal," lead author Casey Holliday told Discovery News.
Holliday, an anatomy professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and colleagues Ryan Ridgely, Jayc Sedlmayr and Lawrence Witmer made the determination after analyzing the cartilage present in ostriches and alligators, close modern-day relatives of dinosaurs. They also analyzed the fossilized limbs of different dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex, Allosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Triceratops.
The scientists discovered that cartilage accounted for about 10 percent of the lengths of ostrich and alligator limbs. Using a "cartilage correction factor," they now believe carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus were only modestly taller when fleshed out. Herbivorous giants, such as Triceratops and Brachiosaurus, were likely a full foot more in height.