Behemoth Argentine dinosaur Dreadnoughtus made T. rex look puny

Thu Sep 4, 2014 3:44pm EDT
 
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The word big does not do justice to a massive, long-necked dinosaur that shook the Earth in Argentina about 77 million years ago.

Try colossal, enormous, gargantuan and stupendous - and you might come close to an accurate description of this behemoth, known to scientists as Dreadnoughtus schrani.

Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery in southern Patagonia of remarkably complete and well-preserved fossil remains of the dinosaur, which weighed 65 tons (59,300 kg) and measured 85 feet long (26 meters) with a neck 37 feet long (11.3 meters) and a tail 30 feet long (8.7 meters).

Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who discovered the dinosaur and led the effort for its excavation and analysis, said the scientists calculated its weight on the basis of the bones in its upper arm and thigh.

Dreadnoughtus weighed more than an adult sperm whale or a herd of African elephants. Tipping the scales at seven times as much as the dinosaur T. rex, it made the North American menace that also lived during the Cretaceous Period look puny.

Dreadnoughtus had "the largest reliably calculable weight" of any known land animal - dinosaur or otherwise, Lacovara said.

Another giant Argentine dinosaur, Argentinosaurus, might have been larger, he said, but its scant remains do not allow a reliable weight estimate. Another group of scientists in May had cited Argentinosaurus, with an estimated weight of 90 tons (82,107 kg), as the largest dinosaur.

While strictly a vegetarian, Dreadnoughtus was no pansy. With its size and a tail that could have clobbered any predator foolish enough to attack it, it probably had nothing to fear from even the largest meat-eating dinosaurs.   Continued...

 
Bones of Dreadnoughtus schrani are seen in Professor Kenneth Lacovara's fossil lab at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in this undated photo released on September 3, 2014.  REUTERS/Kenneth Lacovara/Drexel University/Handout via Reuters