This is the most important dinosaur dig site in 100 years!
Since the discovery of the titanosaur in the spring of 2014, an international team of biologists, Hollywood model makers, a BBC film crew, and paleontologists, led by Dr. Diego Pol and his colleagues from the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio in Argentina, have spent nearly 40,000 hours of work carefully removing the fossils of the giant herbivore.
Amazingly, the team discovered that not only was this plant eater a new species, but it was also the largest dinosaur ever — dwarfing its competitors. Even more exciting, the team found that not just one, but seven of these animals died in the exact same spot, across at least three different occasions, approximately 101.6 million years ago.
This new dinosaur belongs to a group called sauropods — long-necked, big-bodied herbivorous animals. However, a subsection of this group is known as the titanosaurs, so big that they would literally shake the ground as they moved.
So, do we really know if this dinosaur is actually the biggest ever discovered? Since body size estimations vary according to the technique used and how much skeleton is recovered, the team had to be certain before they claimed it as the largest dinosaur.
The difference between titanosaur, and the previous biggest dinosaur, Argentinosaurus, is that most of the skeleton has been found. From the seven individuals, 223 bones have been recovered to date, and their results pin the dinosaur at 37 meters (122 feet) in length and weighing 70 metric tons (as much as 15 African elephants), making it the largest animal to ever walk on Earth. Argentinosaurus’ size was estimated from just 20 bones.
To maintain such a massive size, titanosaur had four specially adapted column-like legs, and instead of toes, they had horseshoe-like stumps to reduce the number of bones, eliminating the stress and chance of fractures — meaning they pretty much walks on their tiptoes, with huge fleshy pads to cushion the impact. Not only that, since they were so big they probably had heavy musculature running from their thighs to halfway down their tails to gain momentum for walking.
This new species has not even been named yet, and the scientists really cannot explain why seven of these animals were found together in the same spot. However, there were approximately 80 giant serrated carnivore teeth from an unknown killer found with the bones, according The Guardian, so maybe they became another’s meal.
A lifesize replica of the skeleton is at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Sir David Attenborough appeared on BBC One yesterday (January 24) to discuss the discovery of the titanosaurs.
Maybe this new discovery will inspire a new generation of dinosaur hunters.