When we talk about dinosaurs, perhaps what comes to our mind right away is the Tyrannosaurus-rex, because it was really an impressive type of dinosaur, wasn’t it? But what if we told you that there was a dinosaur that, if placed side by side with the T-Rex, would make it look like a little lizard? Yes, just over 10 years ago Patagotitan mayorum, the largest dinosaur that ever existed, was discovered in Argentina. Let’s get to know a little about it! Enjoy reading and have fun!
Its discovery is recent, it was only in 2012 that Patagotitan mayorum fossils were found in the Chubut Province, Patagonia region, southern Argentina. Its first name is a junction in honor of the region and the Latin word titan, which means giant. Also known as Titanosaurus, it is part of the last major family of sauropod dinosaurs before the extinction event about 65 million years ago.
The fossils found in Patagonia were so many that experts believe they belong to six different dinosaurs. It is the most complete set of Patagotitan mayorum fossils ever found and is dated to 100 million years ago. More than 220 fossil remains were found, making the discovery one of the most important in the history of paleontology, both for the size of the fossils and for the fact that they are almost complete. To give you an idea, only one femur found measured almost 8 feet (7.87)! It is the largest bone ever found in the world, weighing around 550 kilograms!
To transport a replica of the fossils to the United Kingdom, where an exhibition was set up for the opening of the Natural History Museum, two planes were needed. The skeleton is almost 115 feet long, the equivalent of four double-decker buses or a British Airways Airbus A320. Indeed, it lives up to the title of the largest dinosaur.
When did Titanosaurs live?
Titanosaurs, as the Patagotitan mayorum is also known, lived in the Cretaceous-Paleogene period, about 100 million years ago, as did the vast majority of dinosaurs ever discovered by Science. Experts believe that during this period there was what is called an evolutionary apex and the way the planet was presented at the time explains why, at least until now, dinosaur remains have never been found in the oceans. During the Cretaceous period, there was only one continent, Gondwana and there was no division by sea, but an ocean on each side of that strip of land.
Features of the largest dinosaur that ever lived
As paleontologist, Luiz Eduardo Anelli, from the Instituto de Geociências at USP, explains, “In the time of the dinosaurs, size really mattered! A healthy, adult animal of that size was practically invulnerable.” And if it depends on its measurements, the Patagotitan mayorum was, in fact, the largest dinosaur: 26 feet high, 131 feet long from head to tail, and an impressive 77 tons of weight. Studies claim that to be able to pump blood to a body of this magnitude, a heart of 440 pounds would be needed!
Herbivores, quadrupeds with long tails, equally long necks, and small heads, Patagotitan mayorum is three times the size of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Its front legs were devoid of finger phalanx, which is believed to have been an adaptation, over millions of years, to be able to support the immense weight of the largest dinosaur. Its back legs had claws that were used to give traction to the movement and also to dig the holes where its eggs were deposited.
A curious fact about their eggs: despite the gigantic size of this type of dinosaur, their eggs were relatively small, no more than the size of a basketball. And the hatchlings, when they were born, were about 40,000 times smaller than the adults. Experts claim that one of the success secrets of this type of dinosaur was its fast growth. At one point in their lives, hatchlings grew up to 33 pounds in a single day! Interesting, isn’t it?!
As already mentioned, this long-necked giant was herbivorous, that is, it ate plants and algae. In the same vein as modern giraffes, their incredibly long necks were used to reach the tops of the tallest trees.
What were titanosaurs?
As we mentioned earlier, the largest dinosaur, the Patagotitan mayorum, is part of a family of sauropod dinosaurs, the titanosaurs. They include about 40 species and have been found on all continents except Antarctica. The largest land animals ever known are part of this group. The sizes, although varied, are all in the same, let’s say, “titanic style”, or gigantic. Some of them were even close to the size of the whales of our era. Diego Pol, from the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina, said: “Tyrannosaurus rex and other flesh-eaters look like dwarfs when you put them against one of these giant titanosaurs. It’s like when you put an elephant next to a lion.”
In 2022, a site with about 250 fossilized titanosaur eggs was found in India. They were grouped, as in a giant nest, and, according to experts, this suggests that the parents were not close to the eggs before they hatched.
An exposition with the fossil remains and replicas of the largest dinosaur found in Patagonia is going around the world. It is the first time that this type of giant dinosaur will be exhibited in Europe, for example. Inside the Natural History Museum of the United Kingdom, only one of the galleries is capable of holding the immense skeleton, donated by the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, in Argentina. There are replicas on display in Chicago and New York as well, and there have been exhibitions in São Paulo, Brazil. The largest dinosaur in the world is making a lot of success!
How much knowledge remains to be discovered about these giants that inhabited Earth thousands of years ago? We still know so little compared to so much that there is still to be known. If you want to know more, keep accompanying us, we are always looking for more reliable information to present.
Till next time! ♥