Dinosaurs were big. Not all of them, of course. As we remember from Jurassic Park, some are roughly human size, while still others are small enough to fit on the passenger seat of an SUV and spit sticky, venomous loogies at Newman from Seinfeld. Still, the big ones have always been the most memorable, being, as they were, some of the largest creatures to ever exist on our planet. Now paleontologists have discovered what appears to be one of the biggest yet.
Located in the Patagonia region of Argentina, this new dino was more than 85-feet long, 30-feet tall, and weighed in at more than 130,000 pounds. And the researches believe that it was still growing when it died—it appears to be an adolescent skeleton—so who knows just how big this bad boy could have gotten before the end. The newly unearthed creature is so large, in fact, that they gave it a very size appropriate name: Dreadnoughtus. Named after a large, notoriously tough World War I-era battleship, if we’re being honest, this name sounds a little bit like a villain that Godzilla would have clashed with at some point in his long, rich filmography. Which makes us like this news even more.
Dreadnoughtus is a part of group of gigantic, even more than usual, dinosaurs that scientists have dubbed titanosaurs, again, for very good reason. This discovery marks the most complete skeleton ever uncovered of one of these gargantuan beasts, and could shed light on the wider spectrum.
According to Dr. Kenneth J. Lacovara, a Drexel University paleontologist, and the head of the international team that made this find, “What we can say with certainty is this is the biggest land animal that we can actually put a number on.”
How big is that number? Well, right now they have 16 tons of bone, just bone, back at his Philadelphia-based lab. There can’t be all that much room left to maneuver around in. This collection is comprised of more than 200 individual bones, which they estimate is roughly 45 percent of the skeleton. The left thighbone alone is more than six feet tall.
To put this in perspective, an African elephant, which is currently the largest land animal in existence, weighs a paltry 15,000 pounds, and an empty Boeing 737 only tips the scale at approximately 93,000. As big as he is, Dreadnoughtus is still much smaller than the blue whale, which can tip the scale at north of 300,000 pounds, and dwarfs every other creature, living or dead.
Though big, Dreadnoughtus may not be the biggest dinosaur. Some claim the Argentinosaurus, another titanosaur, is even larger, based on vertebrae that have been found. In those cases, however, the key bones generally used to estimate size and mass have not been found. The completeness of this particular skeleton is what makes it so exciting to researchers. The find even includes what Lacovara and his team believe are fossilized neck tendons from the massive land beast.