Fossils of 'largest' dinosaur found in Argentina (Update)

May 17, 2014 by Sonia Avalos
Picture taken on May 16, 2014 showing a technician next to the femur of a dinosaur—likely to be the largest ever to roam the earth—in Rawson, Chubut, some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Buenos Aires

Paleontologists in Argentina's remote Patagonia region have discovered fossils of what may be the largest dinosaur ever, amid a vast cache of fossils that could shed light on prehistoric life.

The creature is believed to be a new species of Titanosaur, a long-necked, long-tailed sauropod that walked on four legs and lived some 90 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period.

Researchers say the plant-eating dinosaur weighed the equivalent of more than 14 African elephants, or about 100 tonnes, and stretched up to 40 meters (130 feet) in length.

The previous record holder, also in Argentina, the Argentinosaurus, was estimated to measure 36.6 meters long.

A fossilized femur of the Titanosaur was larger than a paleontologist who lay next to it.

And the find didn't stop there.

Bones from at least seven individual dinosaurs, including some believed to be younger, were found at the site.

This is "the most complete discovery of this type of giant dinosaur in the world, a momentous discovery for science," cheered Jose Luis Carballido, one of eight scientists who participated in the research.

The fossils were accidentally discovered in 2011 by a farm worker in a remote area in the Patagonian province of Chubut, some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

The worker first spotted a massive leg bone, measuring some 2.4 meters in length.

Excavations launched in January 2013 also uncovered complete bones of the tail, torso and neck—which will allow for a fuller picture of what the entire animal looked like when alive.

Carballido, part of a team of Argentine and Spanish researchers, said the group had uncovered "10 vertebrae of the torso, 40 from the tail, parts of the neck and complete legs."

Credit: MEF

"Until now, what was known, worldwide, about sauropods was from fragmentary discoveries," said the 36-year-old paleontologist from the Egidio Feruglio Museum in the southern city of Trelew, calling the find "extraordinary."

Tip of the iceberg

Even more bones may yet appear.

So far, "we have only recovered an estimated 20 percent of what's in the field," said Carballido.

The find is set to help shed light on more than just the anatomy of these remarkably large herbivores.

The researchers have also found what they believe to be muscle insertions, which will help them reconstruct the form of the creature's muscles and calculate how much energy was needed to move them.

Paleontologists have found about 60 teeth at the site, 57 of which are from Tyrannotitan carnivores—one of the largest known therapods, and known scavengers.

This 2014 photo released on Saturday, May 17, 2014 by the Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio, shows a team of paleontologists working at the site where the bones of a sauropod dinosaur were unearthed, near Trelew, Argentina. Paleontologists from the Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio announced Friday, May 16, 2014, the discovery of what they believe are the fossil remains of the world's largest dinosaur, near Trelew. (AP Photo/Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio)

In addition to the skeletal remains, fossil imprints of leaves and stems have been found, which could help researchers rebuild the ecosystem at the time.

"We will be able to make a very precise reconstruction and answer many questions," Carballido said—including just what about southern Argentina made conditions favorable for so many massive dinosaur species.

'A treasure trove'

So far, the new species remains unnamed, and scientists estimate they will publish the first results next year.

"The research will be done in several stages. First we will present the new species, its characteristics," Carballido said, followed by years of study to detail the animal's biology and "the way it grew up."

Paul Barrett, fossils and anthropology expert at London's Natural History Museum, cautioned that claims this dinosaur is the largest ever still must be confirmed.

"This is an inspiring new discovery of a truly gigantic dinosaur," Barrett said.

"However, we need to know more about the overall size and proportions of the skeleton and use several different methods to investigate its possible width before deciding it's definitely the largest dinosaur species yet known."

US paleontologist David Burnham agreed that "a lot of things still need to be proven."

But largest dinosaur or not, the breadth of the discovery was truly remarkable.

"You can really start reconstructing past life when you get a treasure trove like this," said Burnham, of the University of Kansas.

Finding so many individual dinosaurs at one site could confirm the hypothesis that these herbivores lived in herds, as well as determine any predators they may have had, whether they were scavengers, when they died and in what type of environment they lived, the paleontologist added.

Explore further: Argentine dino find: long-necks survived Jurassic (Update)

More information: MEF: www.mef.org.ar/index.php?optio… 1&Itemid=152&lang=es

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betterexists
1 / 5 (4) May 17, 2014
gAd Created it? How Sick!
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) May 17, 2014
Looks massive! Maybe they shook the ground when they walked.
Rute
5 / 5 (4) May 18, 2014
Consider this: the light that reflected off of these dinosaurs on a clear sky day, essentially live footage of them, is still travelling in the space somewhere, though dispersed to a depressing degree. It is probably practically impossible to capture that footage but just the thought of it travelling there in the infinity is captivating. Perhaps similar footage of humans will be the only thing left of us in the future.
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) May 18, 2014
I'm wondering about the physical properties of tissues. How strong can they be before things become impractical? This creature's legs, for instance, had to be capable of supporting some substantial portion of its weight as it moved. Maybe, like hippos, it spent most its time partially submerged, but it would still have to come up on dry land some time.
ubavontuba
3 / 5 (4) May 18, 2014
Cool discovery!

I wonder, how did these things absorb enough calories in a day to grow so large and support their bulk? How fast did they grow? How long did they live? Did they have a maximum mature size, or did they just keep growing throughout their lives (like some fish do)?

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) May 18, 2014
I'm wondering about the physical properties of tissues. How strong can they be before things become impractical? This creature's legs, for instance, had to be capable of supporting some substantial portion of its weight as it moved. Maybe, like hippos, it spent most its time partially submerged, but it would still have to come up on dry land some time.
As you might expect, scientists have long pondered these things and have many very well-developed theories about them. If you're really curious why don't you look them up?

I'm sure they are on the internet somewhere.
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
How could They protect their Bodies?
Snakes & Scorpions could be biting.
A swarm of flies could be harassing.
What about Bite & Run Animals. What a hell of life, irrespective of their sizes! Constantly living in pain & danger.
Once one dinosaur dies, it will be food for millions taking their bite around its corpse.
Constant Hunger too; Where were that many plants?
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
How could They protect their Bodies?
Snakes & Scorpions could be biting.
A swarm of flies could be harassing.
What about Bite & Run Animals. What a hell of life, irrespective of their sizes! Constantly living in pain & danger.
Once one dinosaur dies, it will be food for millions taking their bite around its corpse.
Constant Hunger too; Where were that many plants?

2 TINY EYES Guiding such a HUGE Body?
Not at all proportional. Graphics designer asst. for gAd goofed up!
Rute
4.7 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
I'm wondering about the physical properties of tissues. How strong can they be before things become impractical? This creature's legs, for instance, had to be capable of supporting some substantial portion of its weight as it moved. Maybe, like hippos, it spent most its time partially submerged, but it would still have to come up on dry land some time.


From what I've read, these kind of sauropods were more or less the equivalent of modern day giraffes, meaning that they ate leaves from tree-like plants that existed back then (horsetails, araucarias, tree ferns, cycads etc.). Because of their huge bodies, they would have needed to consume incredible amount of calories a day which probably meant that they didn't do much besides eating and sleeping. So I don't think they spent much time in water at all.
gculpex
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
How could They protect their Bodies?
Snakes & Scorpions could be biting.
A swarm of flies could be harassing.
What about Bite & Run Animals.
Once one dinosaur dies, it will be food for millions taking their bite around its corpse.
Constant Hunger too; Where were that many plants?

2 TINY EYES Guiding such a HUGE Body?
Not at all proportional. Graphics designer asst. for gAd goofed up!


How ignorant! Think of it this way, do whales worry about flies? or how much is needed to eat each day? A shark could take a bite but then is that what they prefer to eat?
You assume too much about this animal, that's bad form, even for every day people.
And what's a gAd? is that in reference to God?

If we go by Hawking's theory of no information is lost then we can assume all information is retained, somewhere, somehow. Think about that, every thing you do, think of, is there forever. now, what do you think that means?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
From what I've read, these kind of sauropods were more or less the equivalent of modern day giraffes, meaning that they ate leaves from tree-like plants that existed back then (horsetails, araucarias, tree ferns, cycads etc.)
Instead of trying to recall something you read or simply guessing, you can use google and look up accurate info yourself, as written by experts, and post the link here. But that doesn't help the dweeb to learn how to do it himself now does it?

The internet will eventually make bullshitting impossible but this is of course going to take some time.
Rute
3.7 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
My source for the sauropods' choice of plant nutrition is from a paper named " In vitro digestibility of fern and gymnosperm foliage: implications for sauropod feeding ecology and diet selection."

http://www.ncbi.n...2600911/
Returners
3 / 5 (2) May 18, 2014
The internet will eventually make bullshitting impossible but this is of course going to take some time.


Thank God!

Then I won't have to read your crap.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2014
The internet will eventually make bullshitting impossible but this is of course going to take some time.


Thank God!

Then I won't have to read your crap.
Hey there Lrrrkrr. Tell us again how we can expect to mine dry ice in the antarctic. I bet you can't wait until there's an AI lrrrrking in the shadows that will automatically delete crap like that.
Sinister1812
not rated yet May 19, 2014
How could They protect their Bodies?
Snakes & Scorpions could be biting.
A swarm of flies could be harassing.
What about Bite & Run Animals. What a hell of life, irrespective of their sizes! Constantly living in pain & danger.
Once one dinosaur dies, it will be food for millions taking their bite around its corpse.
Constant Hunger too; Where were that many plants?


They would be pretty exposed to bad weather, parasites, smaller predators etc. Being so big you'd think they would've eaten through whole forests.
Rute
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
To the buoancy matter: There is a rather controversial theory that the atmospheric density was much higher than today during the era of dinosaurs and before that. For example, Octave Levenspiel has asserted that the large pterosaurs couldn't have flown if the atmospheric pressure weren't 3,75-5 times higher than today's (otherwise not enough buoancy). The added buoancy that results from denser atmosphere would not only have helped the pterodactyls but gigantic (terrestrial) dinosaurs as well and it could help explain also why there existed huge flying insects in the carboniferous period (higher atmospheric density -> higher partial pressure of oxygen -> easier for the creatures that rely on passive diffusion for gas exchange to get oxygen to their tissues).
Rute
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
Correction to the "giraffe matter": Some research suggests that only some sauropod taxa were high browsers. But it's a convoluted matter. A quote from the paper:

"Based on the reconstructions of the sauropod neck position, Stevens & Parrish (2005) state that only brachiosaurids and camarasaurids would have been able to feed on tall trees, while other taxa should have focused on low-growing ferns and fern allies. By contrast, Fiorillo (1998) dismissed ferns and horsetails as suitable food plants for sauropods.."

And: "Based on our experimental results, plants such as Equisetum, Araucaria [tree], Ginkgo [tree] and Angiopteris would have formed a major part of sauropod diets, while cycads [tree], tree ferns [tree] and podocarp conifers [tree] would have been poor sources of energy. Energy-rich but slow-fermenting Araucaria, which was globally distributed in the Jurassic, was probably targeted by giant, high-browsing sauropods with their presumably very long ingesta retention times."
EnricM
not rated yet May 19, 2014
Maybe, like hippos, it spent most its time partially submerged, but it would still have to come up on dry land some time.


This hypothesis is rather old and was deprecated a long time ago because of the effect of the water pressure on the tracheas of the beasts.

EnricM
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
Cool discovery!

I wonder, how did these things absorb enough calories in a day to grow so large and support their bulk? How fast did they grow? How long did they live? Did they have a maximum mature size, or did they just keep growing throughout their lives (like some fish do)?



And turtles AFAIK too.

Another interesting question is how they survived to be large enough, and I assume that even their feeding habits would have been different... maybe a single huge herd occupied several ecologic niches feeding on different types of vegetation.

eaglesflyhigher
1 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
The Old Mountain Goat "sees this", so "He knows"!
Does "Another agree" - or Do They Have Blinders On?