Saturday, August 12, 2017

Biggest ever dinosaur now has a name

Remember when the biggest dinosaur was something called brontosaurus, as it was back in the murky past of my own childhood?
Well, for several years, brontosaurus was no longer even called brontosaurus - it was reclassifield and consider a type of apatosaurus, although even more recently it has been re-reclassified as a separate genus containing three different species. Either way, brontosaurus, large as it was, is no longer considered to be the largest of the large, and neither are other names from my childhood like brachiosaurus, diplodocus, etc.
Of course, it depends to some extent on how you measure "big" (length, height, weight, etc), but as paleontologists have continued to toil away in ever more obscure parts of the earth, and new and better modelling techniques revise and refine estimates of the size and weight of the various contenders, a bunch of new names have vied for the title, some of which positively dwarf old brontosaurus: megalosaurus, supersaurus, giraffatitan, futalognkosaurus, elaltitan, turiasaurus, sauroposeidon, paralititan, dreadnoughtus, amphicoelias, puertasaurus, argentinosaurus, etc.
Then, in 2014, a truly massive dinosaur fossil was found in Patagonia, one which is the current favourite for the largest ever land animal. Although parts of its skeleton have been on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York for over a year now (with its head and tail protruding into adjacent rooms, despite the immense size of the display hall), this specimen hit the news again just this week when it finally received an official name: patagotitan mayorum.
Weighing in at about 69 tons, patagotitan mayorum is the largest of the titanosaurs discovered to date, some 10% heavier than the previous record-holder (argentinosaurus) and almost twice as large as brontosaurus and apatosaurus. It grew to about 130 feet long, and lived during the Cretaceous Period, around 101 million years ago.
And, for now at least, it is largest creature ever to walk the earth.

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