Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 165 million years, which is incredible for any one kind of animal to exist, considering humans have only been here for about 300,000 years. Not only did this incredible dynasty prove to have vast longevity, but it also proved to have vast diversity. From swift predators like velociraptor, to the ostrich-like ornithomimus , to lumbering behemoths like Diplodocus. The smallest dinosaurs (Compsognathus) measured at 3 feet long, slightly larger than a chicken. And the biggest…well, it was recognized to be Argentinosaurus. However, paleontologists are now announcing a new species of dinosaur, which is proposed to be the largest ever discovered.
The dinosaur in question is a massive herbivore estimated to be 120 feet long and weighing over 70 tons. That is longer than a blue whale, and heavier than a dozen African elephants. This dinosaur began making headlines back in 2014, but lacked a name, simply being referred to as “The Titanosaur” for the time being. Further, a formal description of the bones had yet to be published, so experts had no way of confirming this titan’s status as the largest dinosaur ever.
However, paleontologist José Carballido of the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio and his colleagues have finally published the details of this enormous creature.
The official name of the dinosaur is Patagotitan mayorum, which means “the Mayo family’s Patagonian titan”, since the dinosaur’s bones were discovered at La Flecha ranch, owned by the Mayo family. The bones are 101 million years old.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this discovery, however, is a piece of evidence that scientists found in the bones. Even the largest of the Patagotitans, say the researchers, shows signs of ongoing growth at death. After years of pondering why sauropods (the long-necked group of dinosaurs of which Patagotitan is a part of) get so massive, researchers are beginning to think that it was simply because they could. Food was plentiful enough in their environment to sustain an animal growing to godlike proportions.
Over the years, there has been a trend of a new sauropod dinosaur being discovered that shatters the record of largest dinosaurs ever. In 1903, it was Brachiosaurus. In 1979, it was “Seismosaurus” (meaning earthquake reptile). In 1993, it was Argentinosaurus. And now, we have Patagotitan.
Considering this trend, is it safe to say that there are even more massive dinosaurs yet to be discovered? Macalester College paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers thinks so, stating ““Even if we’ve discovered the largest terrestrial animals ever known,” Curry Rogers says, “we haven’t found the biggest representatives of their species so far.”