Monday, September 8, 2014

New Find: The Largest Dinosaur Ever Found

The skeletal remains of a new dinosaur was recently found in the Santa Cruz province in Argentina. 

It has been named, Dreadnoughtus after a type of warship and meaning "fearing nothing."  This is a genus of giant titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur and was discovered in Upper Cretaceous rock (Campanian-Maastrichtian; 84–66 million years ago).  It is one of the largest of all known terrestrial vertebrates, possessing the greatest mass of any land animal ever discovered.  By using limb bone measurements, scientists have determined that this massive dinosaur's size is:

Length:  85 feet (26 m)
Head and neck: 40 feet (12.2 m)
Neck only: 37 feet (11.3 m)
Torso and hip length 16.7 feet (5.1 m)
Tail length 30 feet (8.7 m)
Shoulder height 20 feet (6 m)
Mass:  130,800 pounds (59,300 kg) 

Below is a diagram I put together to show the approximate size of this amazing dinosaur, relative to an elephant and a six foot tall human.  By comparison, the animal's weight was more than eight and a half times that of a male African elephant and even exceeded the Boeing 737-900 airliner by several tons.

Another amazing fact about this incredible found is that the skeletal remains are amazingly complete, as compared to other dinosaur fossils that have been found.  Over 45 percent of the bones are intact and well preserved, including the skull.

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, of Drexel University, discovered the remains in 2005. Due to the large size of the bones and remote location where they were found, it took his team four years to fully excavate the remains. Mules, ropes, hills, and many team members were needed to finally get the field-jacketed bones to a truck.

In 2009 the fossils were transported to Philadelphia via an ocean freighter for preparation and study. Fossil preparation and analysis occurred at Drexel University, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Dreadnoughtus schrani fossils will be returned to their permanent repository at the Museo Padre Molina in Rio Gallegos, Argentina.

Another interesting thing about this dinosaur find is that when it died, the dinosaur was not fully grown.  Apparently there is an outer layer on certain bones of fully mature sauropods that was not found in this specimen.

Modified from:  LadyofHats,

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