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A team of paleontologists in South America recently announced that they have found the remains of what may be the biggest dinosaur found yet. According to their estimates, the unnamed giant, a new species of the Titanosaur, weighed at least 77 tons, stood 65-feet high and measured 130-feet long, from head to tail. In contrast, the previous record holder, the Argentinosaurus, which stood a slightly taller 70-feet, is believed to have weighed just 70 tons and measured 115-feet in length.
The exciting find that was unearthed in a remote desert in Patagonia, Argentina, by a team led by Dr. Jose Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol from the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio, was first discovered by a farmer who alerted the experts, in 2011.
Since the excavation began in early 2013, the paleontologists have discovered perfectly preserved fossils of 10 vertebrae of the dinosaur's torso and 40 of the tail, parts of neck and complete legs. They believe that the remains belong to seven members of the giant that roamed the area about 95 million years ago. In addition, they have also found what they think are muscle insertions. This will help the scientists recreate the Titanosaur's muscles and calculate how much energy was needed to move them. Also unearthed, are 60 teeth, 57 of which once belonged to the Tyrannotitan carnivores - one of the largest known theropods and known scavengers.
This and other evidence found at the site has led the scientists to conclude that the dinosaurs died of dehydration, either because the area was undergoing a drought or because they got stuck in the mud. While not completely sure, they believe the carnivores may have arrived to feed on the dinosaur carcasses and for some reason were also never able to leave. Based on the fossils discovered, Carballido and Pol who revealed their findings on May 17th, think that the Titanosaur had a small skull and a very long neck and tail.
While the new dinosaur may have usurped the Argentinosaurus, remains of which were also discovered in Patagonia, they are no threat to the reputation of the fiercest dinosaur of all - the T-Rex. That's because just like the Argentinosaurus, these lumbering giants were also members of the Sauropod family, which means that they were herbivores.
However, not everyone is convinced that this new Titanosaur may be as big as the researchers believe. Dr Paul Barrett, a dinosaur expert from London's Natural History Museum, believes that it is difficult to get accurate measurements based on just a few body parts. He maintains that the only sure way to know how big the dinosaur was, is to find an entire skeleton.
But that opinion does not deter Carballido and Pol, who are still conducting their research. They are convinced that they have found enough parts to estimate the size accurately. Also, given that they have only recovered a fraction (about 20%) of what is in the field, they might even stumble upon an entire fossilized skeleton! As for what they are gong to name this mighty one? That has not been decided yet. Carballido says that they trying to come up with something that reflects the animal's magnificence and also pay respect to the farm worker who discovered it and the region where it was found!
Resources: BBC.com, washingtonpost.com,thenational.ae