But this truly gigantic dinosaur was a herbivore. The specimens found in Argentina’s Chubut province (which is part of the Patagonia region) belong to the sauropod group of dinosaurs, which are noted by their small heads, thick, pillar-like legs, and long necks and tails. Perhaps the most well-known sauropod is the Apatosaurus, which often goes by the name “Brontosaurus” in pop culture. But this latest sauropod is twice as long and up to four times as heavy, and researchers are classifying it as a new species of Titanosaur, which is a group of extremely large sauropods.
Paleontologists led by Dr. José Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol of MEF found seven adult specimens in the same spot, and the roughly 200 fossils discovered so far are in wonderful condition. Among the cache of fossils they’ve found significant pieces of the neck, back, and legs, as well as “most of the vertebrae of the tail,” according to a press release from MEF. “It’s a real paleontological treasure,” says Dr. Carballido. He suggests that the adult individuals likely died in the same spot, perhaps huddling around a dwindling water source.
By measuring the diameter of load-bearing bones like the femur and humerus, the team was able to estimate the size and weight of the dinosaurs. Their findings just beat out another very similar Titanosaur, Argentinosaurus (pictured above), which has long been considered the largest dinosaur ever. Argentinosaurus is estimated to have weighed roughly 73 tons. It, too, was discovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina, which is a hot spot for dinosaur fossils.
If initial estimates hold up, this latest find will not only take the title of largest dinosaur ever — it will be the biggest animal ever known to have walked the earth. But it doesn’t have a name yet.
Researchers tell BBC News that “it will be named describing its magnificence and in honor to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery.”
Photographs and video of the dig site are available at BBC News.