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Argentina find rivals Argentinosaurus, the previous largest well-studied dinosaur

At 30-40 m (roughly 100 to 130 feet) from head to tail and weighing in at 80-100 metric tons, the Argentinosaurus huinculensis was one of the longest and heaviest dinosaurs ever.  Some say it was surpassed only by the 40-60 m (130-200 ft), 110 metric ton Amphicoelias fragillimus.  Others argue that Argentinosaurus is the true size king as the fossils of Amphicoelias discovered and documented in the 1870s were lost -- possibly due to decomposition during storage -- and no known skeleton currently exists.
 
I. The Heaviest Sauropod?
 
But a new Argentina herbivorous giant is exciting the world.  A member of the genus Titanosaurus may be giving the good old A. huinculensis "Argentinosaur" a run for its money.  According to new, well preserved specimens revealed last week at Argentina's Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio, the beast may have measured 130 feet (40 meters) and weighed 80 metric tons.
 
Those numbers mean that it likely was somewhat longer than the Argentinosaur, if perhaps a bit lighter.
 
longest dinosaurs
The previous dino record holders (click to enlarge). [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Titanosaur size
Titanosaur, next to a modern giraffe and human.  The predator that killed it -- Tyrannotitan -- is also pictured.

Professor José Luis Carballido -- a scientist with the museum who helped extract and study the specimens -- states:
 
It's like two trucks with a trailer each, one in front of the other, and the weight of 14 elephants together.
 
In total the paleontologists assembled seven of the massive skeletons from adult specimens that died at the site.  Those seven incomplete skeletons were pieced together from roughly 200 excavated bones from the red rock strata.

Titanosaur dig
The researchers used backhoes to remove large boulders and debris. [Image Source: MEF]
 
Paleontologists estimate that the bones date back to 95 million years ago -- near the end of the Cretaceous, the closing period of the Cenozoic Era, the era in which dinosaurs dominated the land.  They were found in cool, dry desert flats near Chubut, Argentina, located midway along Argentina's Atlantic coastline.  The region -- part of the area known as Pantagonia -- is roughly 800 miles south of Argentina's capital and most populous city, Buenos Aires.
 
Researchers believe the pack of sauropods became dehydrated or stuck in thick mud flats.  At that point they were ambushed by local predator dinosaurs, which appeared to have feasted on the veritable buffet of helpless prey.

Titanosaurus
Professor Pablo Puerta next to one of the Titanosaur femurs (Professor Puerta has an entire genus of sauropods named after him, so you know he means business). [Image Source: MEF]

The researchers came to this conclusion based on the fact that many of the skeletons were incomplete or had tooth marks.  Further evidence comes from the discovery of numerous teeth (60+) from local predator dinosaurs, but no bones from these predators (which likely would have been found if the predators and herbivores alike perished in a natural disaster like a mudslide).

The teeth are believed to have come from the gigantic predatory therapod bipedTyrannotitan chubutensis, a fearsome predator who measured up to 12.2 meters (40 ft) long.

titanosaur
Professor José Luis Carballido (right), with legendary dinosaur hunter Pablo Puerta (left)
[Image Source: MEF]

Professor Carballido comments:
 
Probably, [the predators] went to [eat] the herbivores' dead bodies. But the feast came at a price: The carnivores would lose many of their teeth as they attempted to bite the hard skin and flesh.
 
Sounds like the predators received a dose of dinosaur karma.  But don't feel too bad -- those predators regrow their teeth.
 
II. Questions, Lost Challengers Loom
 
One thing worth noting though is that it's possible this new species is itself Argentinosaur, as Titanosaurs are not a true genus, but so-called "wastebin taxon", which is packed with sauropods of a variety of sizes that were found with only key structure pieces of the skeleton (the vertebra and leg bones) intact, but nonetheless were distinct enough to clearly not belong to known species.  As part of sauropod classification requires toe bones and the skull, the new species' relatives are unclear.
 
Titanosaur dig
In total 200 bones were extracted.  Because no skulls or foot bones were found, it is unknown how closely the sauropod was related to the Argentinosaur.  it's possible that it is a new kind of Argentinosaur, in fact. [Image Source: MEF]

But it would be a fair guess that the Titanosaur itself might have been a Argentinosaur, a genus whose members were discovered in the 1980s and were thought to have arisen on the then-island continent of South America (which at the time was somewhat akin to a large Australia).
 
Studies on the new beasts -- and a formal scientific name -- are still pending and it has yet to be fully displayed to the public.
 
Titanosaur
We should be thankful for the wonders of modern preservation; at least two other megadinosaurs were lost due to the sites being flooded or to boned decomposition. [Image Source: MEF]

A closing note -- aside from Amphicoelias there is one more even more controversial lost giant that might have surpassed the new specimen and the Argentinosaur  -- Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi.  Estimated to have weighed 139 tons, this species was discovered in 1989 near the southern tip of India, but remains and unofficial member of the record books, due to classification disputes and the loss of the only known specimen.
 
The Bruhathkayosaur was unearthed by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and preliminary descriptions and line drawings were collected, but no pictures were reportedly taken.  Researchers hoped to finish the extraction, but were stymied when a massive monsoon hit the region.  In the aftermath the site was washed away, leaving yet another unsolved mystery.
 
Compounding the issue is the fact that researchers with the GSI who led the excavation classified the dinosaur as a Therapod -- a carnivorous bipedal dinosaur -- in their paper.  But later analysis of the line drawings and descriptions led most other paleontologists to conclude that this was actually some sort of lost herbivorous sauropod.
 
The moral of the story is that the new Titanosaur, like its possible relative, the Argentinosaur, is a fortunate find in that it was extracted, safely preserved, and contained a relative wealth of fossilized remains, despite missing some key parts of the skeleton (the only region in which the Argentinosaur find from the 1980s trumps this one).

Source: MEF [Google Translated from Spanish]





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95 million years ago WOW
By doughtree on 5/22/2014 3:01:01 PM , Rating: 3
It blows my mind how old these bones are, such a staggering number.

The last time I learned about dinosaurs was in grade school! Science has advanced since then, I bet we learned a lot more since, I have to watch a documentary soon!

My mind was recently blown when I watched a documentary series about astronomy. So many new things we have learned since the courses I took in college! Way to go science!




RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2014 3:33:11 PM , Rating: 1
95 million years is easy for me to swallow.

What really blows my mind, and captures my imagination every bit today as when I was a child, is the fact that such a creature was born and then began to grow to this colossal size. Just one of these things would eat a whole forest every day!

Just...the size of this thing! Jesus fucking Christ! It's almost incomprehensible. If we saw something like this in the wild, it would just be so awe inspiring, so dumbfouding, and of course terrifying.

No wonder there's so many time travel back to the age of dinosaurs scifi plots. That would be the greatest adventure imaginable imo.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By inighthawki on 5/22/2014 4:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
Just imagine if these were still around today. Half of our cities probably wouldn't even exist because one of these would just walk through it and cause colossal damage without even realizing what it's doing, just by bumping into, things and stepping on stuff.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By RapidDissent on 5/22/2014 4:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
Homo sapiens wouldn't even exist. Our predecessors would never have had enough food or safety to permit the adaptations required to get us where we are today. There was no time to develop intellectual prowess, it was solely a numbers and fitness game.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By inighthawki on 5/22/2014 5:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
You're taking it too seriously. It's just an imagination exercise. Take our modern world and just add giant dinosaurs here and there and imagine what it'd be like.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By marvdmartian on 5/23/2014 7:31:53 AM , Rating: 2
Didn't they already make a movie about that?? ;)


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Shadowmaster625 on 5/23/14, Rating: 0
RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Reclaimer77 on 5/23/2014 10:34:03 AM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? Earth's mass has not changed, so surface gravity has been more or less constant since the formation of the Earth. There may have been a VERY slight variation due to continental drift and Earth's distance to the Sun, but nothing as drastic as what you're proposing.

Dinosaurs had massive bone structures, true, but the bones themselves were quite porous to save weight. They also had gigantic muscles around those bones to support the skeletal structures.

The answer you're looking for, or should be, is evolution. Not whatever "significant event" you're being vague about. Any change in surface gravity would have taken place over billions of years, allowing for dinosaurs to adapt to it through evolution.

What are we dancing around? Come out with it.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Rob94hawk on 5/23/2014 8:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
The earths mass HAS NOT STAYED THE SAME.

Proof? The Russian meteorite that flew over Russia and landed in their lake was weighed in at over 1300 pounds. That's just ONE. Over 95 million years scientists can only speculate how much mass has fallen from space but they agree that the earths mass IS increasing. That's the short version.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Nagorak on 5/24/2014 6:17:00 AM , Rating: 2
It's still ridiculous to think the mass of Earth has increased anywhere near the magnitude necessary for its gravity to have seriously increased.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/2014 11:06:18 AM , Rating: 2
Do you realize how much mass would have to be added to Earth to go from walking talking dino's to "neck snapped" dino's??

I believe I used the term "relatively". To change the surface-gravity of Earth, it would take a LOT more than the rare and random meteorite.

I mean come on man, stay on context here...


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Rob94hawk on 5/25/2014 4:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
Do you honestly thing if a T-Rex were alive today it would be able to lumber around under it's own power without struggling? I don't. Heart failure within a few days.

IMO Venus is what Earth looked like more than 95 million years ago. Maybe a little bigger. But even that small difference has a HUGE impact on larger animals the bigger they get:
Venus vs Earth
Mass 4.87 x 1024 kg < 5.98 x 1024 kg
Radius 6052 km < 6378 km
Density 5250 kg/m3 < 5520 kg/m3
Gravity 8.87 m/s² < 9.78 m/s²


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By DerMack on 5/26/2014 4:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
I hope you drive very gently or else you might break your neck.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2014 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you honestly thing if a T-Rex were alive today it would be able to lumber around under it's own power without struggling? I don't. Heart failure within a few days.


Of course it could walk around today without struggling! What has changed? Certainly not Earth gravity.

I don't understand who or what is filling your guys heads with this nonsense.

I guess we better go fit all the giraffes with neck collars, because in a few years Earth's (apparently) ever-increasing gravity will "snap their necks" like twigs?


By Quicksand Jesus on 5/28/2014 2:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
Was that before or after the massive chunk of Earth was broken apart to create the Moon? So........maybe the planet had MORE mass in the past???


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By japlha on 5/23/2014 10:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Today's gravity would snap their bones if they moved as fast as they were capable.

Are you talking about the "Expanding Earth" hypothesis?

quote:
What I find interesting is the fact that these things prove something significant (and unexplainable by mainstream science) occurred between then and now, and people just love to dance around it.

What is this interesting fact that is "unexplainable by science" that everyone loves to dance around? Also, by what method have you learned about this "fact"? Have you developed a methodology that explains something our current scientific method cannot? If so, please tell us. It would benefit us all.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By drewsup on 5/24/2014 1:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
WTF are you smokin, and can I have some please?

If anything, the only thing that has changed to prevent such big size is O2 levels. They would have been closer to 20% O2 back then, allowing for bigger everything, ever seen a two foot dragonfly from that time period? It would be impossible for anything to grow that big again due to the lower O2 levels now.
Gravity my ass...


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Iantech on 5/22/2014 4:35:03 PM , Rating: 4
Those numbers are based upon antiquated techniques. And time is a relative thing anyway. I sense we've only a small picture (currently) of what these creatures were and 'when' they actually lived.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Acupuncture on 5/22/14, Rating: 0
RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Dorkyman on 5/22/2014 8:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Bull.

I'm sure there are a few simpletons in both parties. I don't know ANY R's (and I know a lot) who believe that 4,000-year-old crap.

Stop painting everyone with such broad brush strokes.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By inighthawki on 5/22/2014 8:13:26 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the magic number is 6,000 ;)


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By BRB29 on 5/23/2014 9:45:49 AM , Rating: 2
There's plenty of those Rs in Kentucky and Tennessee.


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Nfarce on 5/22/2014 11:15:51 PM , Rating: 1
You do realize that not all Republicans are far right conservative Christians who believe the world is only 5,000 years old, right? Then there's the far left who believe cow farts cause ice burgs to melt in the Arctic...


RE: 95 million years ago WOW
By Nagorak on 5/24/2014 6:14:14 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. It is amazing to even consider that something this large could even exist.


Drunk archaeologists
By bologno on 5/23/2014 9:34:21 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't believe this news, especially since there is beer bottle on the excavation area.
http://goo.gl/2DnppG




RE: Drunk archaeologists
By DerMack on 5/26/2014 4:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of which, have you ever watched the british archaelogy tv-series 'Time Team'? Ran for 20 years, did mostly 3 day digs like a dozen per each season and went to pub pretty regularly at the end of 1st and 2nd day of digging. Cheers!


Godzilla
By wordsworm on 5/22/2014 5:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
They should have named this one Godzilla.




The Science Is Settled
By Arsynic on 5/22/14, Rating: -1
RE: The Science Is Settled
By Dorkyman on 5/22/2014 8:07:12 PM , Rating: 1
That's right. After all, 97% of us say so.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain













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