Giants at the End of the World:
Recent Dinosaur Discoveries from Southernmost Patagonia, Argentina
Sauropod dinosaurs were a diverse and cosmopolitan clade of long-necked, quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaurs that included the largest terrestrial animals ever. They appeared during the Late Triassic, ~215 Ma (million years ago), and remained abundant on most landmasses until the end of the Cretaceous (65 Ma). Although sauropods attained large body size early in their evolutionary history, exceptionally gigantic forms are reported only from the Middle Jurassic through the early stages of the Late Cretaceous (~170 – 86 Ma). Until recently, latest Cretaceous sauropods were thought to be relatively diminutive compared with their predecessors.
Our discoveries in southern-most Patagonia, however, demonstrate the persistence of extremely massive sauropods into the latest stage of the Cretaceous Period. We recently excavated two specimens representing a new genus and species of titanosaurian sauropod. The first is represented by an isolated femur over 2 meters in length. The second consists of a largely complete, partially articulated skeleton. Previously discovered super-massive dinosaurs, such as Amphicoelias, Seismosaurus,Supersaurus, Sauroposeidon, Argentinosaurus, Paralititan, and Puertasaurus, are described only from fragmentary remains. Our new skeleton represents the most complete specimen yet of a dinosaur in the largest mass class. The record of large titanosaurian dinosaurs is especially fragmentary and this specimen provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the osteology and biomechanics of an enigmatic group of giants.
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