What historical nation was the biggest tail

New species of dinosaur was the largest land animal that ever lived

A newly named species of sauropod is not only the largest known dinosaur to date, but now also holds the record for the largest land animal to ever walk the earth.

This conclusion can at least be drawn from the first scientific description of the particularly large titanosaur that roamed through what is now Argentina in the Cretaceous period.

The long-necked giant by the name Patagotitan mayorum lived about 102 million years ago. It was believed to be over 31 meters long and weighed 69 tons, about the same as twelve African elephants (the largest land dwellers today).

With these numbers he is pushing Patagotitan the formerly largest dinosaur named Dreadnoughtus just about from his pedestal.

When paleontologists José Luis Carbadillo and Diego Pol of the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum discovered the first traces of the fossil on a farm in Patagonia, they knew it was going to be big.

The team spent more than a year laboriously digging up the fossil. Kenneth Lacovara, a paleontologist at Rowan University and the discoverer of Dreadnoughtus, has compassion:

"I think I can understand more than most how much sweat, effort, frustration and anger it comes with trying to get bones of this size and number off the ground and safely into a museum."

FROM HEAD TO TAIL

At the beginning of 2016, a life-size model of the giant titanosaur found its way into a permanent exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The scientific description of the new species was only published this week in the journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society B".

The estimate of his weight came from the huge leg bones. The femur alone is almost 2.5 meters high and weighs half a ton.

Lacovara points out that the size estimate has error bars and so the 69 tons is not an absolute number. “Think of it like a bracket, not a point,” he says.

The specimen is also remarkable because it is almost complete: vertebrae, ribs, bones of the front and rear legs and parts of the hips are present.

"For the first time we have the opportunity to evaluate how these giants were built, what adaptations there are in their anatomy and how they coped with such an enormous weight," explains Pol.

The fossil helps paleontologists find out how and when titanosaurs got this big. Some of them weighed around six tons, making them one of the smallest sauropods.

The new analysis of the giant suggests that the region of what is now Patagonia was home to a particularly large and previously unknown group of titanosaurs. “A subgroup of the titanosaurs seems to be a bit crazy and to have developed enormous body sizes,” says Pol.

But he believes that dinosaurs - and probably all land mammals - with animals like that Patagotitan have reached their upper size limit.

"All of the candidates for the largest species of dinosaur were similar in size with differences of ten to 15 percent," he says. "This suggests that we are approaching the largest possible body size in land animals, which was unknown until recently and is an exciting discovery."