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Meet Patagotitan, the Biggest Dinosaur Ever Found

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In 2013, an old Argentinian shepherd named Aureliano Hernandez found a fossilized bone protruding from a rock at the farm where he worked, reported The Atlantic.

The remains of giant dinosaurs festoon Argentina’s landscape, and knowing the strict rules that govern such fossils, the farm’s owners—the Mayo family—contacted local paleontologists. By the time the team arrived, Hernandez had passed away. He never knew that as one of his final acts, he had discovered the largest dinosaur ever known.

The fossil he had found was so big that it took two weeks to unearth it. It was a thigh bone, and the largest ever found—eight feet from end to end. There are photos of paleontologists lying next to it for scale, and they look like bemused pixies, their bodies and imaginations dwarfed by what they had found.
The bone clearly belonged to a sauropod—a long-necked dinosaur like Brontosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus. Specifically, it was one of the titanosaurs—the last-surviving group of sauropods, and likely the biggest of them. But even known titanosaurs didn’t have thighs that big. Team leaders Luis Carballido and Diego Pol from the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum (MEF) estimated that the bone’s owner would have stood 130 feet from nose to tail, and tipped the scales at 77 tons. Speaking to journalists, they compared it to 14 elephants, a seven-story building, and two trucks (with trailers) parked end to end.

News of the new titan spread quickly. Last January, a cast of the sauropod went on display at the American Museum of Natural History, while legendary naturalist David Attenborough released a documentary about its discovery. And now, Carballido and his team have finally published an official scientific description of the dinosaur. They’ve also given it a name—Patagotitan mayorum. The first half refers to the Patagonian region where the dinosaur was found. The second half honors the Mayo family who kindly welcomed the scientists onto their land and into their kitchen.

After careful analysis, the team think that Patagotitan is slightly smaller than they previously thought—69 tons or so. But even after that downsizing, it’s still twice as heavy as more familiar giants like Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus, and 10 percent bigger than the previous record-holder—another Argentinian titanosaur called Argentinosaurus. For now, it’s the biggest dinosaur for which we have accurate measurements, and perhaps the biggest land animal that ever lived.

“We have a decent idea how well the various methods for estimating dinosaur body mass work, and they tend to agree well enough most of the time,” says John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College. “Even taking into account the uncertainty of those methods, Patagotitan comes out as a 60- to 80-ton behemoth. And nothing else we know of yet comes .

Read more at theatlantic.com

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