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New dino described as largest weighable specimen ever

Sept. 4, 2014
Courtesy of the U.S. National Science Foundation
and World Science staff

Sci­en­tists say they have dis­cov­ered a fos­sil of the larg­est land an­i­mal whose weight can be ac­cu­rately cal­cu­lat­ed. It’s a di­no­saur of a new spe­cies dubbed Dread­nough­tus schrani, and the cal­cula­t­ion is pos­si­ble be­cause of the skele­ton’s ex­cep­tion­al com­plete­ness, the re­search­ers say. 

A video on the new dinosaur find by Drexel University and the U.S. National Science Foundation. (Image: Jennifer Hall)


Al­though some rel­a­tives of the an­i­mal are thought to have been larg­er—weigh­ing as many as 100 tons in the case of a line­age known as Ar­genti­no­saur­us—they are known only from more frag­men­tary re­mains.

Re­search­ers claim the D. schra­ni spe­ci­men weighed about 65 tons in life and meas­ured 85 feet (26 me­ters) long, about the length of two ­city bus­es—though it was still a ju­ve­nile. The ske­l­e­ton has over 70 per­cent of the bones, though no head, rep­re­sented, the sci­en­tists re­ported.

Both it and Ar­genti­no­saur­us be­long to a group of plant eaters known as ti­ta­no­saurs, named af­ter the ti­tans, a pri­me­val race of gi­ant gods from Greek my­thol­o­gy.

D. schrani “weighed as much as a doz­en Af­ri­can ele­phants or more than sev­en T. rex. Shock­ing­ly, skele­tal ev­i­dence shows that when this 65-ton spec­i­men died, it was not yet full grown. It is by far the best ex­am­ple we have of any of the most gi­ant crea­tures to ev­er walk the plan­et,” said Ken­neth La­co­vara of Drexel Uni­vers­ity in Phil­a­del­phia, who said he dis­cov­ered the fos­sil ske­l­e­ton in south­ern Pat­a­go­nia in Ar­gen­ti­na.

La­co­vara and col­leagues de­scribed the find Sept. 4 in the jour­nal Sci­en­tif­ic Re­ports. They un­earthed the fos­sil over four ex­ca­va­tion sea­sons from 2005 through 2009.


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Scientists say they have discovered a fossil of the largest land animal whose weight can be accurately calculated. It’s a dinosaur of a new species dubbed Dreadnoughtus schrani, and the calculation is possible because of the skeleton’s exceptional completeness, the researchers say. Although some relatives of the animal are thought to have been larger—weighing as many as 100 tons in the case of a lineage known as Argentinosaurus—they are known only from more fragmentary remains. Researchers claim D. schrani weighed about 65 tons in life and measured 85 feet (26 meters) long, about the length of two city buses—though it was still a juvenile. The skeleton has over 70 percent of the bones, excluding the head, represented, the scientists reported. Both it and Argentinosaurus belong to a group of plant eaters known as titanosaurs, named after the titans, a primeval race of giant gods from Greek mythology. D. schrani “weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex. Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65-ton specimen died, it was not yet full grown. It is by far the best example we have of any of the most giant creatures to ever walk the planet,” said Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who said he discovered the fossil skeleton in southern Patagonia in Argentina. Lacovara and colleagues described the find Sept. 4 in the journal Scientific Reports. They unearthed the fossil over four field seasons from 2005 through 2009.