Written by Bella Dalima
17 May, 2014 | 6:26 pm
Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say.
Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall.
Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus.
Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur – an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period.
A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 250km (135 miles) west of Trelew, Patagonia.
The fossils were then excavated by a team of palaeontologists from the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, led by Dr Jose Luis Carballido and Dr Diego Pol.
They unearthed the partial skeletons of seven individuals – about 150 bones in total – all in “remarkable condition”.
By measuring the length and circumference of the largest femur (thigh bone), they calculated the animal weighed 77 tonnes.
The new dinosaur is a type of sauropod similar to Argentinosaurus, illustrated here
This giant herbivore lived in the forests of Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, based on the age of the rocks in which its bones were found.
But despite its magnitude, it does not yet have a name.
There have been many previous contenders for the title “world’s biggest dinosaur”.
The most recent pretender to the throne wasArgentinosaurus, a similar type of sauropod, also discovered in Patagonia.
Originally thought to weigh in at 100 tonnes, it was later revised down to about 70 tonnes – just under the 77 tonnes that this new sauropod is thought to have weighed.
The picture is muddied by the various complicated methods for estimating size and weight, based on skeletons that are usually incomplete.
Argentinosaurus was estimated from only a few bones. But the researchers here had dozens to work with, making them more confident that they really have found “the big one”.
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