Fossil of “First Giant” Dinosaur Was Discovered in Argentina And It Was a Huge Evolutionary Weirdo, Seriously

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The discovery of a new dinosaur species suggests gigantism in sauropods evolved about 30 million years earlier than previously thought. Here’s what else scientists know about a recently-discovered dino.

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Source: CECILIA APALDETTI

First giant

Have you ever thought why dinosaurs, the biggest animals to have walked the Earth, were actually so big? Some of them weighed as much as a space shuttle.

Until now it was unclear how dinosaurs grew to such massive proportions but a new dinosaur discovery from Argentina gives fresh evidence on the rise of the giants.

The animal used a novel strategy to become super-sized, involving very fast growth spurts and efficient bird-like lungs, say paleontologists.

The fossil was found in the northwest of Argentina during a field trip. The scientists found four skeletons in all, one of a new species and three of related dinosaurs.

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Source: CECILIA APALDETTI

What’s so special about it?

The dinosaur looks somewhat familiar — kind of like a much smaller brachiosaurus — but it’s definitely different. Instead of the straight legs, huge bodies, and long necks that have come to define the sauropods, this odd-looking creature has bent legs and a shorter neck, but it’s definitely huge, if not as big as its much larger cousins.

A study published earlier this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution details the discovery of the first Ingentia fossil in Argentina.

We could see that it was a new species that we named Ingentia prima,” said Dr Cecilia Apaldetti of Universidad Nacional de San Juan in Argentina. “That in Latin means the ‘first giant’.”

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Reconstruction with air sacs in green and lungs in brown. Source:  JORGE A. GONZÁLEZ

The new finding reveals that giant dinosaurs evolved at least 30 million years earlier than sauropods like brachiosaurus or titanosaurus, changing our understanding of the huge beasts that lorded over our planet before we came along. It wasn’t as large, weighing about 10 tonnes.

Anyway, it was the first dinosaurs to grow to giant sizes of around 10 tonnes, back in the Triassic Period some 215 million years ago.

new-dinosaur-argentina-photo

Source: CECILIA APALDETTI

We used to think that the first giant dinosaurs arose in the early part of the Jurassic Period after supervolcanoes caused a global extinction at the end of the Triassic. But the lessemsaurids tell us that at least some dinosaurs were able to attain giant sizes during the latest part of the Triassic, before the extinction.

What is really unexpected is that the lessemsaurids achieved their huge bodies independently of the gigantic sauropods like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, which did indeed evolve later during the Jurassic.

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The development of huge size wasn’t just a one-off event for the sauropods, but rather different types of dinosaurs were able to become colossal, which speaks to just how incredible these animals were.


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The discovery of a new dinosaur species suggests gigantism in sauropods evolved about 30 million years earlier than previously thought. Here's what else scientists know about a recently-discovered dino.
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