Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this Aug. 26, 2014 photo, Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara works in a lab near vertebrae from a Dreadnaughtus schrani at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The immense dinosaur from Patagonia is slated to be introduced to the scientific community Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Scientists hope its unusually well-preserved bones will help reveal secrets about some of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth. The four-legged beast with a long neck and tail weighed an estimated 65 tons and stretched about 85 feet long. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)
Argentine dinosaur may shed light on huge beasts
Dreadnoughtus » The creature stretched about 85 feet long and weighed about 65 tons.
First Published Sep 04 2014 09:51 am • Last Updated Sep 04 2014 07:52 pm

New York • Researchers studying the remains of an enormous dinosaur — a creature that was bigger than seven bull elephants — have given it an equally colossal name: Dreadnoughtus, or "fearing nothing."

Scientists hope its unusually well-preserved bones will help reveal secrets about some of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The four-legged beast, with a long neck and powerful 29-foot tail, stretched about 85 feet long and weighed about 65 tons. That’s more than seven times the weight of even a plus-size male African elephant.

Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who found the specimen in Argentina’s southern Patagonia in 2005, said he can’t claim it was the most massive dinosaur known, because the remains of comparably sized beasts are too fragmentary to allow a direct comparison.

But it’s the heaviest land animal whose weight during life can be calculated directly with a standard technique that analyzes bones of the upper limbs, he said. And its bones indicate it was still growing when it died.

Lacovara and colleagues describe the plant-eating behemoth in a study released Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports. He said the bones were probably around 75 million to 77 million years old.

The creature got some media attention in 2009 when its excavated remains arrived in a large shipping container at a pier in Philadelphia. Since then, Lacorvara and colleagues have created computerized 3D reconstruction of the bones, and have started making miniaturized physical models of parts of the skeleton to investigate how the animal moved.

The bones will be returned next year to Argentina, where they will be housed permanently at a museum, researchers said.

In the new paper, the researchers named the beast Dreadnoughtus schrani; the second name refers to an American entrepreneur who supported the research. It belongs to a poorly understood group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

Experts not connected with the study said the remains were remarkably complete and well-preserved for a titanosaur. While no complete skull was found, the remains reveal more than 70 percent of the rest of the skeleton.


story continues below
story continues below

"We’re getting a more complete picture of this giant animal than we have for any of the other big titanosaurs that are out there," said paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. The bounty of anatomical data should help scientists learn about variation in titanosaurs and their evolution, she said.

"This is pretty big news," Rogers said.

Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan called the finding "a really great specimen."

Among the questions it can help scientists investigate, he said, is what kind of anatomical features were needed to let a dinosaur grow so huge.

Last May, other scientists announced that another huge dinosaur was being excavated in Patagonia. Wilson, who has seen some of its bones, said its size is comparable to Dreadnoughtus. He said he hopes scientists can determine whether the two beasts are closely related, or whether each came by its huge size independently.

Paul Upchurch of University College London said he thinks the recently announced dinosaur and another species, Argentinosaurus, were more massive than Dreadnoughtus. But he called Dreadnoughtus valuable for its combination of huge size and the completeness of its skeleton.

"If you’re interested in super gigantic animals, this is probably the one you want to work on" to study how such beasts walked around, Upchurch said.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.