Meet the new heavyweight champion of dinosaurs: Patagotitan

File-This Jan. 14, 2016, file photo shows visitors to the American Museum of Natural History examining a replica of a 122-foot-long dinosaur on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. A study proclaims a newly named species the heavyweight champion of all dinosaurs. The plant-eating giant is the largest of a group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs (tye-TAN’-u-sawr). At 76 tons (69 metric tons), the behemoth was as heavy as a space shuttle. A scientific paper released Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, describes and dates the fossils found in southern Argentina in 2012. A skeleton of the dinosaur is already on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

A new study describes the biggest dinosaur ever, a plant-eater that made T. Rex look like a munchkin

WASHINGTON — A study proclaims a newly named species the heavyweight champion of all dinosaurs, making the scary Tyrannosaurus rex look like a munchkin.

At 76 tons (69 metric tons), the plant-eating behemoth was as heavy as a space shuttle.

The dinosaur's fossils were found in southern Argentina in 2012. Researchers who examined and dated them said the long-necked creature was the biggest of a group of large dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

"There was one small part of the family that went crazy on size," said Diego Pol of the Egidio Feruglio paleontology museum in Argentina, co-author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers named the dinosaur Patagotitan mayorum after the Patagonia region where it was found and the Greek word titan, which means large. The second name honors a ranch family that hosted the researchers.

Six fossils of the species were studied and dated to about 100 million years ago, based on ash found around them, Pol said. The dinosaur averaged 122 feet long (37 meters) and was nearly 20 feet high (6 meters) at the shoulder.

A cast of the dinosaur's skeleton is already on display at the American Museum of Natural History. It's so big that the dinosaur's head sticks out into a hallway at the New York museum .

Legendary T. rex and other meat-eaters "look like dwarfs when you put them against one of these giant titanosaurs," Pol said. "It's like when you put an elephant by a lion."

Scientists have known titanosaurs for a while, but this is a new species and even a new genus, which is a larger grouping, Pol said. Another titanosaur called Argentinosaurus was previously thought to be the largest.

"I don't think they were scary at all," Pol said. "They were probably massive big slow-moving animals."

"Getting up. Walking around. Trying to run. It's really challenging for large animals," he said.

The big question is how did these dinosaurs get so big, Pol said. Researchers are still studying it, but said it probably has to do with an explosion of flowering plants at the time. Along with a forest, it was like an all-you-can-eat buffet for these dinosaurs and they just got bigger.

"It's hard to argue this isn't a big deal when it concerns the (probable) largest land animal ever discovered," University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz, who wasn't part of the study, said in an email.

Kristi Curry Rodgers, a paleontologist at Macalester College who wasn't part of the study, praised the work as important. She said the fact that Patagotitan's bones show signs that they haven't completed their growth "means that there are even bigger dinosaurs out there to discover."

___

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . His work can be found here .

Related News

8,000-year-old female figurine uncovered in central Turkey

Sep 15, 2016

Archaeologists have uncovered a rare stone figurine of a woman dating back 8,000 years at a dig in Turkey's central province of Konya that an expert says is one of only a handful of statuettes from that era ever found in one piece

Powell discusses secret Israeli nukes in leaked 2015 email

Sep 16, 2016

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed Israel's nuclear weapons capability with a friend in a private email exchange last year that hackers leaked this week

Watchdog to probe Comey's, FBI's actions before election

Jan 12, 2017

The Justice Department inspector general has opened an investigation into department and FBI actions before the election, including whether FBI Director James Comey followed established policies in the email investigation of Hillary Clinton

Peaple also read these

Watchdog to probe Comey's, FBI's actions before election

Jan 12, 2017

The Justice Department inspector general has opened an investigation into department and FBI actions before the election, including whether FBI Director James Comey followed established policies in the email investigation of Hillary Clinton

Starbucks launches voice ordering via app, Amazon's Alexa

Jan 30, 2017

Starbucks says it's partnering with Amazon's Alexa voice platform to offer what it calls "on command" ordering

Facebook's Oculus facing $500 million bill in copyright case

Feb 2, 2017

Facebook's virtual-reality subsidiary and two of its founders are facing a sobering reality after a jury hit them with a $500 million bill for infringing on the rights of a video-game maker

Broaden News
Latest News

About Us

Science Thread delivers quality and fascinating science and technology content that matters on a daily basis and makes it go viral.