Paleontologists in Argentina have discovered fossilized bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth.
Based on its huge thigh bones, the dinosaur was 130 ft long and 65 ft tall.
Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and 7 tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus.
Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur – an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period.
A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 135 miles west of Trelew, Patagonia.
The fossils were then excavated by a team of paleontologists from the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, led by Dr. Jose Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol.
They unearthed the partial skeletons of seven individuals – about 150 bones in total – all in “remarkable condition”.
By measuring the length and circumference of the largest femur (thigh bone), they calculated the animal weighed 77 tonnes.
This giant herbivore lived in the forests of Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, based on the age of the rocks in which its bones were found.
But despite its magnitude, it does not yet have a name.
“It will be named describing its magnificence and in honor to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery,” the researchers said.
There have been many previous contenders for the title “world’s biggest dinosaur”.
The most recent pretender to the throne was Argentinosaurus, a similar type of sauropod, also discovered in Patagonia.
Originally thought to weigh in at 100 tonnes, it was later revised down to about 70 tonnes – just under the 77 tonnes that this new sauropod is thought to have weighed.
The picture is muddied by the various complicated methods for estimating size and weight, based on skeletons that are usually incomplete.
Argentinosaurus was estimated from only a few bones. But the researchers here had dozens to work with, making them more confident that they really have found “the big one”.
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