So far, Patagotitan mayorum is considered the colossus among the land animals: With a weight of almost 70 tons and a length of almost 35 meters from the nose to the tail tip, it was lighter than the blue whale, but also slightly larger – not to mention elephants. In Argentina, however, paleontologists led by Alejandro Otero of the Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo in La Plata examined bones that still surpass those of Patagotitan mayorum. They describe their find in »Cretaceous Research».
The hitherto unnamed dinosaur species was thus another ten to twenty percent larger than its relative, the scientists write on the basis of the fossil bones: So far, just over 20 gigantic tail vertebrae and parts of the hip have been exposed. Various differences with the bones of other representatives of this dino group suggest that it is indeed a distinct species. Further excavations should, if possible, also reveal the leg bones of the animal. The true dimensions of the sauropod can probably only be estimated then. Scientists are confident that the skeleton could be largely complete.
The remains were discovered in 2012 in a river valley in the province of Neuquén, and the actual excavation began in 2015. The long-necked and long-tailed, plant-eating giant lived in the company of other large dinosaur species about 98 million years ago. Like all other dinosaurs, the sauropods died out at the end of the Cretaceous period.