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Patagotitan mayorum may be biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth


Fossilised bones of six young adult dinosaurs found in the same Patagonian quarry may have belonged to the biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth, say scientists.

Patagotitan mayorum may be biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth
A replica of a 122-foot-long dinosaur is displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York 
[Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP]
A study of the remains suggests that Patagotitan mayorum weighed around 62 tonnes and measured more than 115ft (35m) from nose to tail.

The titanosaur lived 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period and was a sauropod, a huge plant-eater with a long tail and neck that stood on four legs.

Vertebrae and rib bones were among the finds recovered from the quarry at La Flecha ranch, Chubut Province, Argentina, in 2013.

Scientists now think the fossils belonged to at least six different individuals that died in a floodplain region before being preserved in mud.

Patagotitan mayorum may be biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth
The site at the Patagonian quarry where the fossilised bones of six young adult dinosaurs were found [Credit: PA]
The discovery is the first indication that titanosaurs engaged in social activity. Analysis showed that Patagotitan had a probable body mass of 69 tons (62 metric tonnes).

It was more than 15% heavier than Dreadnoughtus, the largest titanosaur from which a femur (thigh bone) and humerus (forearm bone) have been preserved.

Although some estimates have given another Patagonian titanosaur, Argentinosaurus, the title of biggest land animal ever, with a body mass of more than 80 tonnes, these have not been based on limb measurements and may be unreliable.

Vertebrae from Argentinosaurus suggest it was 10% smaller than Patagotitan, said the researchers led by Dr Jose Carballido, from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina.

Patagotitan mayorum may be biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth
Patagotitan mayorum may have been the biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth [Credit: PA]
They wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: “The above-mentioned body mass estimates, as well as these vertebral comparisons, places Patagotitan as the largest known dinosaur species.”

Patagotitan weighed twice as much as several large sauropods from the earlier Jurassic era, a period when giant beasts such as Giraffatitan (formerly known as brachiosaurus) and Apatosaurus strode the Earth.

Sauropods were the largest land animals that ever lived, and of this group nothing matched the titanosaurs in size.

Patagotitan mayorum may be biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth
An artist's impression of the Patagotitan mayorum [Credit: PA]
The scientists wrote: “Here we describe a new giant titanosaur, which not only represents the largest sauropod described so far but also one of the most complete titanosaur taxa recovered to date.

“The new taxon is represented by at least six different specimens. Based on the taphonomical, histological and ecological data available, we interpret this monospecific sauropod association as the first evidence of social behaviour among giant titanosaurs.”

Source: Press Association [August 08, 2017]
TANN

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