A technician lies down next to the femur of the largest creature to have ever walked the Earth — a dinosaur measuring 130 feet and weighing 77 tonnes — in Rawson, Argentina. (AFP)
May 17: The largest creature to have ever walked the earth — a dinosaur measuring 130 feet and weighing 77 tonnes — has been discovered in Argentina, palaeontologists have said.
Its gigantic bones were found by a local farm worker in a desert in Patagonia, the southern Argentine region that has yielded many important dinosaur discoveries.
Based on the size of the thigh bones — taller than an average man — the dinosaur would have been 130 feet long and 65 feet tall, scientists said.
Its calculated 77-tonne weight would have made it as heavy as 14 African elephants, beating the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus, by some seven tonnes.
The palaeontologists say the find is thought to be a new species of titanosaur — a huge herbivore of the long-necked sauropod group that lived in the Late Cretaceous period.
The bones were initially discovered a year ago in the desert near La Flecha, about 135 miles west of the Patagonian town of Trelew, and were this week excavated by a team of palaeontologists from Argentina’s Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, headed by Dr Jose Luis Carballido and Dr Diego Pol. They have retrieved some 150 bones said to come from seven individuals
“Given the size of these bones, which surpass any of the previously known giant animals, the new dinosaur is the largest animal known to have walked on Earth,” the researchers told BBC News.
“Its length, from its head to the tip of its tail, was 40 metres. “Standing with its neck up, it was about 20 metres high — equal to a seven-storey building.”
The gargantuan dinosaur is said to have lived in the forests of Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, based on the age of the rocks in which the bones were embedded. The giant does not yet have a name, however.
“It will be named describing its magnificence and in honour to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery,” the researchers said.
There have been many previous contenders for the mantle of the world’s largest dinosaur and some scientists say it is difficult to determine with any certainty which is the winner.
But while Dr Paul Barrett, a dinosaur expert from London’s Natural History Museum, agreed the new species is “a genuinely big critter”, he cautioned that further research was needed before declaring the find the world’s biggest dinosaur.