Scientists claim world’s largest dinosaur find

Take the elephant, today’s largest land-bound animal. Then stack 14 of them on top of one another. Then — and only then — would it be possible to conceive of the size of this mega-dino.

It wasn’t the fiercest dinosaur in the world. That title still belongs to the T. Rex — or, as we reported two weeks ago — perhaps the newfound P. Rex.

But this dinosaur, scientists say, was definitely the biggest. “Given the size of these bones, which surpass any of the previously known giant animals, the new dinosaur is the largest animal known that walked on Earth,” researchers told the BBC. “Its length, from its head to the tip of its tail, was [130 feet.] Standing with its neck up, it was about [65 feet] high — equal to a seven-story building.”

The remains were found near the central Argentine town of El Sombrero. Initially stumbled upon by a local farmer, they hint at a dinosaur that weighed 80 tons — 10 tons heavier than the previous record holder, the Argentinosaurus. Belonging to a sauropod subgroup called Titanosaur, it stalked the Earth nearly 100 million years ago, its long serpentine neck swaying to and fro, munching on the vegetation of Patagonia.

At the site, there was a cluster of seven of them amid nearly 200 bones. The animals likely died during a period of drought, researchers surmise, but the bones themselves were in “remarkable condition.”

“It’s like two semi trucks, one after another, and the equivalent of more than 14 African elephants together weight,” says José Luis Carballido, who led a team of researchers from Argentina’s Museum of Palaeontology. According to a museum’s press release, he added: “It’s a real paleontological treasure. There were many and they were intact, which does not happen often.”

Still, with any claimed discovery, there is always a need for skepticism. Many “world’s biggest dinosaurs” have come before this recent discovery. The most recent was the Argentinosaurus, originally believed to weigh a whopping 100 tons, but later scaled back to 7o.  

It’s possible the same could happen with this excavation. “Without knowing more about this current find it’s difficult to be sure,” says Paul Barrett of London’s Natural History Museum. “One problem with assessing the weight of both Argentinosaurus and this new discovery is that they’re both based on very fragmentary specimens — no complete skeleton is known, which means the animal’s proportions and overall shape are conjectural.”

So for now the researchers are holding off on naming the dino. “It will be named describing its magnificence and in honor to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery,” one of the researchers said.

More from The Washington Post:

Scientists call this new dinosaur the Chicken From Hell

Girl’s 12,000-year-old skeleton may solve a mystery

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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