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Were Titanosaurs the Biggest Dinosaurs Ever?

Last Saturday, Argentina’s Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio unveiled the bones of a massive dinosaur aptly dubbed “titanosaur”. If early estimates about the animal’s size are accurate (never a guarantee), these titanosaurs could be the largest known dinosaurs to ever walk the earth.

Titanosaurs were herbivorous giants that shook the earth roughly 95 million years ago in the Late Mesozoic period. They belonged to a group of dinosaurs called sauropods, which are known for their massive size, freakishly long necks and tails, and tiny heads. Sauropods are the same group of animals that brachiosaurus and diplodocus belonged to.

According to a press release, the dinos could have weighed as much as 160,000 pounds and stretched 130 feet long. “It’s like two semi trucks, one after another, and the equivalent of more than 14 African elephants in weight,” said José Luis Carballido. Carballido is the dinosaurs specialist in charge of studying these specimens at the Museo Paleontologica Egidio Feruglio. The massive bones that established the titanosaurs belonged to seven separate specimens and were found in a fossil hotbed within the Chubut region of Argentina.

Sauropod IP

A scale of some of the longest dinos in the game. Amphicoelias (red), Argentinosaurus (purple), Mamenchisaurus (green), Sauroposeidon (blue), Supersaurus (orange).

The remains of the titanosaurs tell a scavenger’s story. Found all around the bones were as many as 60 teeth from large carnivores. But a bunch of meat eaters didn’t necessarily team up and take these guys down as a group. More likely, the carnivores came upon the dead sauropods and fed on them, losing a few teeth while scraping the bones.

Even if the Titanosaur turns out to be the largest dinosaur, it is still bested in bulk by the largest animal to ever live — the blue whale. Lacking the ridiculously long necks and tails, blue whales are less lengthy than the titanosaur allegedly was (by about 30 feet), but the largest blues weigh in at nearly 320,000 pounds–almost twice as heavy. A super-sized body is easier to maintain in the water, where buoyancy means the constant battle with gravity is not so brutal.

Still, what a sight a six-story tall titanosaur would have been…


HT: Museo Paleontologica Egidio Feruglio, CNN, National Geographic

IMAGES: AlamosaurusDB by DiBgd, Longest dinosaurs1 by Dinoguy2

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  1. David says:

    Can you get Slash to weigh in on this?

  2. Kyle says:

    the discovery actually belongs to “a sauropod subgroup which is called Titanosaur.” “…for now the researchers are holding off on naming the dino. ‘It will be named describing its magnificence and in honor to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery,’ one of the researchers said.”

    • Kyle says:

      I understand that the author is aware of this, but I thought it was a bit unclear. I’m probably in the minority and should have faith most Nerdist readers’ comprehension. Anyone going around calling this the “Titanosaur” might be worse than my lack of faith, though.

  3. Paul Zedeck says:

    What evolutionary forces could have pushed that species to grow so big?  What was the planet like then as opposed to now that could have supported life that big?