It was two stories high on the shoulder. His tail was almost as long as a city bus. And it tipped the scales at about 65 tons, heavier than a fully loaded semi.
Meet Dreadnoughtus schrani, one of the largest land animals of all time.
Other huge dinosaurs are known from a few bone fragments found, but the recently found remains of Dreadnoughtus are so complete and beautifully preserved that they will provide unprecedented insight into how the largest dinosaurs were related to each other, how fast they grew, and how they grew. something. so heavy it was dragging around. In fact, never before have so many representative pieces of such a large dinosaur been found.
“It’s a really important discovery,” says Stony Brook University paleontologist Michael D’Emic, who is not associated with the new find, reported in this week’s issue of the journal Scientific Reports. “The glimpses we get of those little, big dinosaurs are pretty fleeting. (Dreadnoughtus) will serve as a key to understanding all those other, more fragmentary specimens.”
The integrity of the Dreadnoughtus remains, discovered in Argentina in 2005 and examined between 2005 and 2009, allowed scientists to accurately estimate its weight.
At 65 tons, the Dreadnoughtus was heavier than many models of the Boeing 737. It is the largest dinosaur whose weight can be accurately calculated, says discoverer Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University, who named the massive battleships of the 20th century called dreadnoughts.
But Lacovara admits there’s a “good chance” a dinosaur known as Argentinosaurus was heavier than Dreadnoughtus.
Paleontologist Roger Benson of the University of Oxford, who was not affiliated with the new find, also places Dreadnoughtus behind Argentinosaurus, which may have weighed up to 90 tons.
Although it was a herbivore, it came equipped for combat with a muscular tail that could have been used as a weapon and large claws on its hind legs. Its size would have made it the king of the forests where it lived at the end of the Cretaceous period.
“If this thing just leaned on a T. Rex, it would probably kill it,” says Lacovara. Walking towards him “would be like approaching a living building. … It would be quite an overwhelming and inadvisable moment.”
Although he could laugh at everyone in attendance, even Dreadnoughtus was not immune to the rush of a river in full flood.
About 80 million years ago, a great torrent swept away two Dreadnoughtuses, perhaps already dead, before dumping them onto a bed of quicksand-like sediments. In a stroke of luck for scientists, the slime showed the animals whole.
Thanks to the burial of the dinosaurs, Lacovara and his team recovered about 70% of the bones that Dreadnoughtus had under its head, the researchers report in Scientific Reports.
Until now, no more than 27% of the bone types of any large dinosaur had been found. Argentinosaurus, for example, is known from half a dozen vertebrae, a leg bone and some hip bone remains, Lacovara says.
The new find will serve as a Rosetta stone to unlock the mysteries of other huge dinosaurs, says D’Emic.
For example, did these animals need to survive for a century to become so large, or would a growth spurt of a few decades suffice? (Analysis of the fossil suggests it was not yet full size.)
“This is a really big animal,” says Lacovara. “Somehow it staggers the imagination.”
It was two stories high on the shoulder. His tail was almost as long as a city bus. And it tipped the scales at about 65 tons, heavier than a fully loaded semi. Meet Dreadnoughtus schrani, one of the largest land animals of all time. Other huge dinosaurs are known due to some…