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Meet the

LARGEST DINOSAUR
IN THE WORLD

 

Sponsor a Titanosaur Bone

 

In 2013, a team of scientists led by MEF researchers found the remains of a new species of dinosaur from 95 million years ago; possibly the greatest who ever lived in our planet. This exceptional discovery not only stands out thanks to the dimensions and quantity of the fossils found, but also for its unusual state of preservation.

 

Seven huge herbivorous dinosaurs, perhaps the biggest creatures that walked the Earth, were found at a single site in the province of Chubut (Argentina). The finding surprised scientists around the world that, until now, only knew the anatomy of these giants based on poor remains of few species.

 

 

These animals lived in the late Mesozoic era when dinosaurs dominated terrestrial ecosystems. One group in particular developed truly giant sizes: sauropod dinosaurs, characterized by quadruped walking, with very long neck and tail and a small skull. According to researchers, the remains belong to a particular group of sauropod dinosaurs called Titanosaurs, including extremely large animals like Puertasaurus, found in Santa Cruz, and Argentinosaurus in Neuquén, Argentina.

 

Initial studies suggest that the newly discovered species have reached 40 meters length and 80 tons weight. "As two trailer trucks, one after another, and the equivalent weight of more than 14 African elephants together," says José Luis Carballido, MEF dinosaur specialist and team leader in the study of these specimens.

 

Such dimensions set the focus on how these animals may have grown.

 

"It's a real paleontological treasure," he adds. "There were lots of fossils in great preservation, practically intact, something that does not happen often. In fact, the remains of giant Titanosaurs known so far are scarce and fragmentary."

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur

GRAVEYARD

Located in the center of the Province of Chubut, this new field produced more than 200 fossils. There, researchers found part of the neck and much of the back, most of the vertebrae of the tail and front and hind legs, among other bones. In addition, 60 teeth of large carnivorous dinosaurs were found.

The presence of seven adult specimens together in that type of environment, indicate that the animals died in the same place of discovery. Probably during drought periods sauropods were attending small pools of water to drink, and maybe some died of dehydration or get stuck in the mud. The accumulation of these animals might be a feast for large scavenging dinosaurs as Tyrannotitan.

 

"They probably frequented the place to scavenge the remains of herbivores. But the feast had high price: to bite hard skin and flesh of these giants often broke their teeth, that later regenerated" says Carballido.

In the sane site, were also found remains of plants, including large logs and leaves imprints that reveal a different Patagonian landscape. The collected samples indicate that 95 million years ago there were huge trees and lower strata with rich flowering plants (angiosperms).

sabias que
 

DATA

Name: Patagotitan mayorum

Rating: Sauropod dinosaur (titanosaurus)

Length: 40 meters (estimated)

Weight: 80.000 kg (estimated)

Food: Herbivore

Geographic region: Patagonia Argentina

Discovery: Near "El Sombrero", Chubut, 2011

 

* It is defined at the time of the scientific publication.

 

An extraordinary site

The site is located in the center of the Province of Chubut, about 260 km from the city of Trelew and near the town of El Sombrero. The discovery – made by a farmworker- was reported in 2011 to MEF. The family Mayo –owners of the farm- provided hospitality both in the camp and during installation work days.

 

"We continue working on this remarkable site," says Carballido. "We estimate that we completed a fifth of the excavation process, so that there is still much work ahead and probably much to discover."

 

OPENING ROADS

The team of scientists and technicians work hard to extract, protect and transfer the fossils to the museum in Trelew. "There wasn´t a road or trail that can lead us directly to the site, so we had to made one! We have great support from the state government" says the specialist.

 

Much of the extraction work is handmade. Pneumatic hammers, shovels, picks and brushes are used to remove part of the sediments. But the removal of large fossil is more complex and requires the use of backhoes and bulldozers that move considerable volumes of rock. In the process, both Provincial and National Road Administration and the National Atomic Energy Commission actively cooperated by providing tools and equipment.

 

The scientific study is conducted by specialists in different fields of paleontology and geology.

 

For example, to find clues about the growth of these new species, researchers are conducting histological studies (microstructure of the bones), muscle, taphonomic (post-mortem history of animals) and biogeographic, among others.

 

Led by Dr. Carballido and Dr. Pol (MEF), the team involves Dr. Leonardo Salgado and Dr. Ignacio Cerda (National University of General Roca), Dr. Alejandro Otero (National University of La Plata), Dr. Alberto Garrido (Olsacher Museum Zapala), Dr. Juan Ignacio Canale (Paleontological Museum El Chocón), Dr. Jose Ignacio Canudo (University of Zaragoza) Dr. Martin Umazano (National University of La Pampa) and Dr. Marcelo Krause (MEF). The Technical Department of the MEF, led by Tec. Pablo Puerta, assisted in the tasks of extraction, transportation and preparation of fossils. Scientists also had the support of the Ministry of Culture of Chubut, and an important team of collaborators and volunteers for field work.