Paleontologists have discovered the fossilized remains of a 98-million-year-old titanosaur in the province of Neuquen, North Patagonia, northwestern Argentina, in a thick sedimentary deposit known as the Candelros Formation.
The 24 tail vertebrae and elements from the pelvis and thoracic girdle that were discovered are believed to belong to the Titanosaur, a variety of sauropod dinosaurs, distinguished by its large size, long neck and tail, and its four-legged stance.
“It’s a huge dinosaur, but we expect to find more skeletons on future field trips, so we will have the possibility to deal with confidence in its true size,” said Alejandro Otero, a paleontologist at the Museum of Argentina. Plata, to CNN via email.
Titanosaur fossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica. But the largest “multi-ton” species – including those of tetanosaurs over 40 tons – have been discovered in Patagonia.
Without analyzing the humerus or femur of a dinosaur, experts say it is not yet possible to determine how much this creature weighs. However, experts said the partially recovered dinosaur “could be considered one of the largest of titanosaurs,” with its body mass likely exceeding or comparing it to that of a Patagotitanian or Argentinosaurus.
The Patagotitanian was perhaps the largest land animal in the world, weighing up to 77 tons, while the Argentinosaur was similarly gigantic, measuring up to 40 meters (131 feet) and weighing up to 110 tons – and weighing 12 times more than an African elephant (up to 9 tons) .
Experts believe that the sample strongly indicates a coexistence of larger titanosaurs with medium-sized titanosaurs and small ripachessors at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous, which began 101 million years ago.
“These differences in size could actually explain the existence of such a Serbian diversity in the Neuquen Basin during the late Cretaceous period in terms of proper zoning,” they wrote.
The researchers said that although they do not believe the creature belongs to a new species, they have not yet been able to assign it to a known genus of dinosaurs.
In Argentina, the research was conducted by the Zabala Museum, La Plata Museum, Egidio Veroglio Museum, and the Universities of Río Negro and Zaragoza.