Giant dinosaur discovered in Argentina
ARGENTINA: A huge dinosaur the size of a double-decker bus has been dug up by scientists. The monster’s discovery reveals that giant dinosaurs evolved a staggering 30 million years earlier than expected.
Paleontologists named the beast Ingentia prima meaning ‘great cousin’.
Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti said: ‘It was enormous. It was at least twice as large as the other herbivores of the time.’
The creature changes our understanding of how this group of species became so large. Its growth was fuelled by bird-like lungs that would have made it remarkably light on its feet. The dino was about 33 feet long, 14 feet tall and weighed up to ten tons. It roamed South America around 210 million years ago during the Late Triassic.
Dr. Apaldetti said: ‘Until now it was believed the first giants to inhabit the Earth originated during the Jurassic – about 180 million years ago.
‘But with this discovery, we can see the first steps toward gigantism occurred 30 million years before the giants dominated practically the entire planet.’
Dinosaurs first appeared around 230 million years ago, and it was believed to have taken them about 50 million years to become massive. The new find shows it happened in less than half that time. The plant-eater, described in Nature Ecology & Evolution, is an ancestor of its famously freakish titanosaur cousins Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus, renowned for their enormous necks and tails.
These iconic dinosaurs they stretched to 130 feet and weighed up to 80 tons. But the earliest examples of this group were small, two-legged creatures.
They all belonged to a family of dinosaurs called ‘lessemsaurids’ and lived in what is now Argentina, but was then the southeast corner of the supercontinent Pangaea. Dr. Apaldetti said the climate would have been warm, with periodic monsoons. producing an African savannah-style landscape, with plenty of shrubs on which Ingentia prima would feed.
Its size would also have put it at less risk of being eaten by the many flesh-eating dinosaurs that were already around.
Dr. Apaldetti said: ‘Gigantism is an evolutionary survival strategy, especially for herbivorous animals.’
The remarkably preserved specimens were discovered in a dinosaur ‘nest’ unearthed at a World Heritage site known for its fossils in Argentina’s northwestern San Juan province.