A group of paleontologists in Argentina have discovered the remains of a dinosaur that makes Godzilla look like a bit of a wimp. The researchers found the fossilized bones of what’s believed to be the largest creature to have ever walked the Earth.
Based on the length and circumference of the dinosaur’s femur (thigh bone), the crew calculated the animal weighed 77 metric tons, seven more than the previous largest dinosaur record holder, the Argentinosaurus. The creature would have been roughly 130 feet long and 65 feet tall and is believed to have been a species titanosaur — an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period (about 100 to 60 million years ago) notable for their small heads, long necks and long tails. The team believes this creature likely 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.
Scott Hartman has recently released his silhouette of the new Utahraptor reconstruction to Phylopic. Even though the paper hasn’t actually come out yet, it’s apparently close enough to publication that Scott gave me permission to upload my own drawing as well, which he has approved as being accurate (at least from a distance - any more subtle anatomy differences would be likely hidden by feathers).
Clearly, the new material will completely revamp our perception of what this animal looked like and probably how it behaved as well. Note the downturned jaw with its precombent teeth and the much shorter limbs and tail. I’ve heard people say the new material makes Utahraptor “ugly”, but I don’t see ugly, I just see very, very strange - like an “ostrich bulldog”, to use Kirkland’s words.
Hopefully we’ll see the paper out very soon now. I don’t know much detail beyond what you see here, so I’m as excited as the rest of you. And now to let the ecological speculation on what it was actually doing with that weird jaw and extra-short limbs begin!