Researchers in Argentina announced the discovery of a new, giant species of dinosaur Monday. Dubbed the Ingentia prima, the Agencia CTyS-UNLaM reports, the newly discovered species is believed to have reached a mass up to 10 tons, and was triple the size of the largest Triassic dinosaurs currently known. "An early trend towards gigantism in Triassic sauropodomorph dinosaurs," published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, reveals that giant dinosaurs existed long before previously thought.
"Before this discovery, gigantism was considered to have emerged during the Jurassic period, approximately 180 million years ago, but Ingentia prima lived at the end of the Triassic, between 210 and 205 million years ago," said Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti, the study's principal author.
The nomenclature behind Ingentia prima's name refers to both size and its time of emergence, according to the study's co-author.
"The name of this new species, 'Ingentia', refers to its colossal size, while 'prima' indicates that it is the first known giant to today on the planet," said paleontologist Ricardo Martinez.
Researchers believe the Ingentia prima first came into being during the Late Triassic Period, some 205-210 million years ago. While a size of up to 30 feet in length and a mass of around 20,000 pounds would be dwarfed by later dinosaurs, "it was considerably larger than other early sauropodomorphs," according to Discover.
"Here, we describe a new sauropodomorph from the Late Triassic of Argentina nested within a clade of other non-eusauropods from southwest Pangaea. Members of this clade attained large body size while maintaining a plesiomorphic cyclical growth pattern, displaying many features of the body plan of basal sauropodomorphs and lacking most anatomical traits previously regarded as adaptations to gigantism," reads an excerpt from the study's abstract.
The new species is notable not only for its size in that time period, but for how it grew to such a size. Ignacio Cerda, a researcher at the Institute of Research in Paleo biology and Geology of the National University of Río Negro, examined the fossils of Ingentia prima to analyze its growth.
"Just as growth seasons can be observed in a tree, the bony cuts in Ingentia prima show that it had cyclical, seasonal growth, but what is striking is that the type of tissue that was deposited in the bones during these periods of growth is different from the other sauropods we knew so far," Cerda said.
Ingentia prima's anatomy allowed it to grow at an accelerated rate for periods, as opposed to a steady rate throughout its lifetime.