A new species of dinosaur, which may represent one of the most complete examples of gigantic titanosaurian sauropod dinosaurs ever discovered, has been unearthed in Argentina.
The herbivores, about 26 metres long and weighing 65 tonnes,were abundant in the southern continents 66 million years ago, and the group includes some of the biggest creatures ever to walk the Earth.
Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated.
The skeleton is exceptionally complete, with 70% of the bones, excluding the head, represented.
All previously discovered super-massive dinosaurs are known only from relatively fragmentary remains.
This find of Dreadnoughtus offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals to walk the Earth.
“Dreadnoughtus schrani was astoundingly huge,” says Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, who discovered the Dreadnoughtus fossil skeleton in southern Patagonia in Argentina.
“It weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex.
“Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65 tonne specimen died, it was not yet full grown.”
Lacovara and colleagues published the detailed description of their discovery, defining the genus and species Dreadnoughtus schrani, in the journal Scientific Reports.
The fossil was unearthed over four field seasons from 2005 through 2009.
More than 100 elements of the Dreadnoughtus skeleton have been recovered including most of the vertebrae from the 10 metre long tail, a neck vertebra with a diameter of a metre, scapula, numerous ribs, toes, a claw, a small section of jaw and a single tooth, and nearly all the bones from both forelimbs and hindlimbs including a femur two metres tall and a humerus.
Lacovara chose the name Dreadnoughtus, meaning fears nothing.
“I think it’s time the herbivores get their due for being the toughest creatures in an environment,” he said.
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