South African scientists think they have found the largest dinosaur ever to roam the Karoo region, and whether the dinosaur belongs to a new species of dinosaur or one that is already known isn’t exactly certain. What is known is that this dinosaur’s thigh bone is massive, and just one half of it had scientists puzzled for 20 years.
According to the Guardian, South African researchers finally collected enough dinosaur fossils to put together a picture of the mammoth creature which once roamed the area. The dinosaur, estimated to have weighed about 14 tons, belonged to the sauropoda group of dinosaurs. The dinosaur was characterized with an elephant-like gait, long neck, and long tail.
This huge dinosaur with a tiny head was nicknamed the Highland Giant.
Dr. Jonah Choiniere led the excavation team for South Africa’s Evolutionary Studies Institute and admitted that it was not known whether this was a new type of dinosaur or whether it was a just a huge dinosaur which was already known to scientists.
“We’re not sure if it’s a new species, or if it’s the biggest specimen ever found of a species we already know. But it’s important either way, because we didn’t know that these dinosaurs could get this big.”
The plant eater was set to be introduced to the public by the University of the Witwatersrand researchers on Tuesday to mark World Science Day, according to News24.
Dr. Choiniere will announce the exciting news of this new dinosaur discovery and show some relatively new discoveries of other dinosaurs that are included in South Africa’s palaeo history.
As for the Highland Giant, this massive dinosaur lived about 200 million years ago along the Lesotho-South Africa border. Scientists believe the big dinosaur died on the banks of a small river there.
Its fossils were found about 20 years ago during construction for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. They were embedded on the side of a rock face on a cliff, and it was difficult to remove the fossils. Palaeontologists had to climb up the cliff face and take power tools with them to cut through the rock in order to get the fossils out.
Now that the fossils have been freed from their cliff tomb, scientists are currently trying to figure out whether the largest dinosaur ever to roam the Karoo area walked on two feet or four. In artist’s drawings, the dinosaur appears to stand on two feet with two shorter legs out front which are not used to support its massive weight.
The dinosaur was about as tall as a Tyrannosaurus Rex in an artist’s drawing but quite longer from head to tail.
During the unveiling and introduction of the dinosaur, an educational poster-artwork by geo-artist Maggie Newman will be revealed to the public. This poster will include a depiction of other dinosaurs and mammals in the area at that time. The artwork will show a primitive crocodile, a mammal ancestor, and plants of the era.
Scientists believe the Highland Giant dinosaur gulped down plants whole and then fermented the plants in its huge stomach. The dinosaur did not eat meat.
The Highland Giant is thought to be as large as “two African elephants stacked on top of each other,” according to Dr. Choiniere.
[Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images News]