Gear yourself up for the newest find in the dinosaur world: the Titanosaur, one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. It is up for unveiling at the American Museum of Natural History.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Titanosaur was discovered around two years ago when a farmer saw the tip of a massive fossil bone protruding from a rock in La Flecha Farm in the Chubut Province in Patagonia, Argentina, an area of vast plains between the Andes Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
Diego Pol, a paleontologist at the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Fereuglio, in Trelew, Argentina, said the following.
“It was like a paleontological crime scene, a unique thing that you don’t find anywhere else in the world with the potential of discovering all kinds of new facts about titanosaurs. According to our estimates this animal weighed 70 tons. Everything was extremely large. After a few days working, we realized it was huge. A comparison of the back bones shows it was 10% larger than Argentinosaurus, the previous record holder. So we have discovered the largest dinosaur ever known.”
The skeletal model of the Titanosaur to be unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History was created by Research Casting International. It is made of a lightweight fiberglass cast, stuffed with foam and connected by steel bars. It was a result of a collaboration between paleontologists at Trelew-based museum and a team at scientists at the American Museum. Plaster casts of the original bone were used to create “bones” of the skeleton model. Advanced techniques like scanning and 3-D printing were also used.
The Titanosaur replica weighs in at about 70 tons, stretches about 122 feet long and 17 feet tall. Its pelvis could hardly fit through the museum garage’s doors. The 19-foot-high ceilings of the display area cannot quite fit the Titanosaur without crouching and stretching its head and neck into a hallway outside. And, according to the paleontologists, he wasn’t done growing! Analysis of the legbones of the beast shows that these vast Titanosaurs were young adults, but still growing.
According to a report in the New York Times, to make room for the Titanosaur, members of the museum’s staff had to dismantle and remove from display the comparatively juvenile Barosaurus, residing in the Wallach Orientation Center since 1996.
No, the Titanosaur won’t bite. Apparently, he fed on leaves! Mr. Don Phillips, president of the New York Paleontological Society, said the following.
“They were probably not much of a threat if you lived back then, unless you got stepped on by one.”
They determined that the Titanosaur lived in the forests that carpeted the region about 100 to 95 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period. José Luis Carballido, a dinosaur specialist and team leader in the study of these specimens, who works at the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum, said the following.
“It’s a real paleontological treasure. There were lots of fossils in great preservation, practically intact, something that does not happen often. In fact, the remains of giant Titanosaurs known so far are scarce and fragmentary.”
The dinosaur was discovered so recently that it hasn’t formally been named yet, “Titanosaur” being more of a proxy. The Argentine paleontologists are currently waiting for the acceptance and publication of a scientific paper that has already been submitted, and which would provide an official name to the dinosaur. Mr. Pol said the following.
“If the name goes out before the paper, then the name becomes invalid. Those are the rules of zoological nomenclature.”
The Titanosaur is already a star. An upcoming documentary on the BBC, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, scheduled to be aired on January 25, follows paleontologists as they uncover fossils and more than 220 bones and 80 teeth of the dinosaur.
[Photo by The Washington Post/Getty Images]