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Argentine dinosaur may shed light on huge beasts


NEW YORK (AP) - Researchers studying the remains of an enormous dinosaur - a creature that was bigger than seven bull elephants - have given it an equally colossal name: Dreadnoughtus, or "fearing nothing."

Scientists hope its unusually well-preserved bones will help reveal secrets about some of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth.

The four-legged beast, with a long neck and powerful 29-foot tail, stretched about 85 feet long and weighed about 65 tons. That's more than seven times the weight of even a plus-size male African elephant.

Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who found the specimen in Argentina's southern Patagonia in 2005, said he can't claim it was the most massive dinosaur known, because the remains of comparably sized beasts are too fragmentary to allow a direct comparison.

But it's the heaviest land animal whose weight during life can be calculated directly with a standard technique that analyzes bones of the upper limbs, he said. And its bones indicate it was still growing when it died.

Lacovara and colleagues describe the plant-eating behemoth in a study released Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports. He said the bones were probably around 75 million to 77 million years old.

Scientists Discover 65-Ton Dinosaur 'Dreadnoughtus'

The creature got some media attention in 2009 when its excavated remains arrived in a large shipping container at a pier in Philadelphia. Since then, Lacorvara and colleagues have created computerized 3D reconstruction of the bones, and have started making miniaturized physical models of parts of the skeleton to investigate how the animal moved.

The bones will be returned next year to Argentina, where they will be housed permanently at a museum, researchers said.

In the new paper, the researchers named the beast Dreadnoughtus schrani; the second name refers to an American entrepreneur who supported the research. It belongs to a poorly understood group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

Experts not connected with the study said the remains were remarkably complete and well-preserved for a titanosaur. While no complete skull was found, the remains reveal more than 70 percent of the rest of the skeleton.

"We're getting a more complete picture of this giant animal than we have for any of the other big titanosaurs that are out there," said paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. The bounty of anatomical data should help scientists learn about variation in titanosaurs and their evolution, she said.

"This is pretty big news," Rogers said.

Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan called the finding "a really great specimen."

Among the questions it can help scientists investigate, he said, is what kind of anatomical features were needed to let a dinosaur grow so huge.

Last May, other scientists announced that another huge dinosaur was being excavated in Patagonia. Wilson, who has seen some of its bones, said its size is comparable to Dreadnoughtus. He said he hopes scientists can determine whether the two beasts are closely related, or whether each came by its huge size independently.

Paul Upchurch of University College London said he thinks the recently announced dinosaur and another species, Argentinosaurus, were more massive than Dreadnoughtus. But he called Dreadnoughtus valuable for its combination of huge size and the completeness of its skeleton.

"If you're interested in super gigantic animals, this is probably the one you want to work on" to study how such beasts walked around, Upchurch said.

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Mike September 06 2014 at 11:01 AM

I can't believe what great lengths scientists go to fake this stuff just to disprove the Bible.

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11 replies
CHUCK September 06 2014 at 11:29 AM

Anybody that thinks they fake this stuff needs to get a reality check. Add a comment...

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aaldrew September 06 2014 at 2:07 PM

We have a living dinosaur today called Eatalotus. It's Rosie O' Donnel.

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3 replies
ironmikemiata September 06 2014 at 3:02 PM

This is another reason The Bible is full of Schitt , God is nothing more than a control freak's obsession

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1 reply
thorrsman ironmikemiata September 06 2014 at 4:50 PM

Sad, really, that a scientific discover is, to you, merely a means to post your religious propaganda.

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1 reply
dws51564 thorrsman September 06 2014 at 9:35 PM

Actually he comment is fact based, not propaganda.

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richard.ramos28 September 06 2014 at 4:58 PM

Try and save a pair of those in your ARK.

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5 replies
travasham September 06 2014 at 6:34 PM

if you think scientists fake this stuff just to disprove your supersticious beliefs..... Then go right on thinking that, because you're obviously too stupid to understand science. I'll admit If you don't like research, facts, and critical thinking, it's much easier when the answer to all dificult questions is "God did it!"

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Fred September 06 2014 at 9:26 PM

Awesome,,,,,,,,,,,,bet you didn't go out at night.

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job60 September 06 2014 at 7:12 PM

must have been tough to saddle one of these up.......

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skatulaki3 September 06 2014 at 5:31 PM

I wonder if they have found any fossilized Dino turds from this thing? or would they know what it was if they did ? Wouldn't be about the size of an SUV ?

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2 replies
thorrsman skatulaki3 September 06 2014 at 5:58 PM

Coprolites are recognizable by those with training the field. Nor, I am given to understand, are they much rarer than fossils of other types.

Still, the process that creates fossils is complex, which is why there are relatively few fossils compared to the uncountable millions of creatures that have lived and died over the last few hundred million years.

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jechandle skatulaki3 September 06 2014 at 11:22 PM

You're a sick dude. That comment is about the same intellectual level as "Look Who's Talking 2" with about 90% of the dialog having to do with urination, and defecation.
Here's a tidbit for you.
Some scientist have mused that there was once life on Uranus,
but it was wiped out.
Also, the atmosphere around Uranus is mostly methane.

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Vince Mills September 06 2014 at 7:03 PM

If I or any other regular individual should dig! We are grave robbers! Not so for the educated, who have protection! So they think they are Protected! Guess what/ I have Dino the Dinosaur in my back yard! So screw you!

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3 replies
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