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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Today's Dinosaur News

Posted by on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Titanosaurs are among the largest creatures to walk the earth.
  • via under Public Domain/Creative Commons license.
  • Titanosaurs were lumpin' huge.
Today we learn about Dreadnoughtus schrani, a ginormous sauropod with a freaking awesome name. As Slog-tipper Barry points out, "All dinosaurs should be named by a precocious 11-year-old in possession of a Monster Manual." (Yeah! No more Utahraptor or Albertosaurus. BORING.)

An international team of paleontologists led by Kenneth Lacovara revealed that Dreadnoughtus is a titanosaur, a group of the sauropods that are among the heaviest creatures to ever walk the earth. The fossil was discovered in Argentina in 2005, and is especially unique because it's about 70 percent complete: the largest fossil mass ever found for an individual creature. (The previous record was just 27 percent complete!)

Lacovara's preliminary research shows that Dread hails from the late Cretaceous Period (about 77 million years ago, close to the end of the age of dinosaurs) and lived in high-altitude and heavily forested valleys. By studying the growth rings in Dread's bones, the paleontologists also discovered, to their astonishment, that despite the creature's enormous size, it was growing steadily up until the day it died.

Although Dread is a contender for the title of largest land animal ever, Lacovara explains that such a claim is actually quite complicated. The current, widely accepted champion is a dinosaur called Argentinosaurus. But Argentinosaurus is only known from a handful of fossils (around 5 percent of its total bones,) so its size and dimensions are roughly estimated. For paleontologists, the gold standard for predicting weight and height involve calculations based on several leg bones. And of the calculable dinosaurs, Dred is number 1.

Obviously Dreadnoughtus wins no matter what because of its superior name. (Argentinosaurus. Whatever.) Read more about its magnificence here, and watch videos about the discovery here and here. Seriously. Go watch them: the size of the vertebrae alone is astonishing.


Comments (5) RSS

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fletc3her 1
The dinosaurs were around for a long time so there are surely a great many species, but I think reveling in each find which differs just enough to get a new name is a bit wonky, even if the name is cool.

For laypeople we could use a simpler set of general species. Lion versus Panthera Leo, Persica, Senegalensis, Azandica, Nubica, Bleyenberghi, Krugeri, Melanchaita, Fossilis, Spelaea, Atrox, Youngi, Sinhaleyus, Vereschagini, Spelaea, Mesopotamica, Europaea, Maculatus, etc.

The taxonomy will collapse one of these days, even if the Brontosaurus has gone the way of Pluto.
Posted by fletc3her on September 4, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 2
I can imagine the fights with packs of T-Rexs it had in it's lifetime. The sounds and smells must have been as great as the beast. But the amount of food it ate must have been truly huge. And I wonder if these animals had common injuries due to their size.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on September 4, 2014 at 1:44 PM · Report this
venomlash 3
@2: Tyrannosaurus rex seems to be restricted to North America. It did have an Asian cousin, T. bataar or Tarbosaurus bataar depending on who you ask; whether they're congeneric or two closely-related genera is a matter of some debate.
Gondwanaland (South America and Africa) tended to be dominated by the Allosauroids and the Abelisauroids. They got pretty big too, but tended to have comparatively larger forelimbs and lighter heads.
Posted by venomlash on September 4, 2014 at 4:49 PM · Report this
But...But... How can this be? The republicans tell us the earth is only a couple of thousand years old! Maybe even younger! Wasn't the earth created when Jesus was born?
Posted by longwayhome on September 4, 2014 at 9:17 PM · Report this
@4 wins Douchebag of the Day award.

why spoil an interesting thread will BS politics? Oh wait, I bet you thought you were being funny. fail.
Posted by you win! on September 5, 2014 at 7:12 AM · Report this

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