One of the very interesting aspects of dinosaurs for children is learning about how diverse this number of reptiles actually were. As an example, to date there have been over 1,000 different species formally named and described. A good many of these known species were quite small, the indisputable fact that all dinosaurs were huge is really a tiny misnomer, and museums which love to truly have a huge and spectacular dinosaur display often give the incorrect impression. As dinosaurs evolved, they filled just about any niche in the foodstuff chain, in the same way terrestrial mammals do today. If land mammals can range in dimensions from a shrew to an African elephant, then it is not surprising to find out that dinosaurs varied in dimensions too.
But what about the really big dinosaurs? Children love to learn facts and figures about these prehistoric animals and amongst their favourite questions would be to enquire which was the largest dinosaur of all time? To identify the giants among the dinosaurs is really a relatively easy task. There is one particular group that grew much larger than every other known type of dinosaur – indeed a few of the members of this group were undoubtedly the largest, the longest and the heaviest land animals which have ever roamed planet Earth.
A well-known dinosaur such as Triceratops (Triceratops horridus) was big. The greatest species of Triceratops is estimated to possess been with us nine metres long and it will have weighed around seven tonnes. If this species of dinosaur were around today it would be classed as the biggest land living animal, with only the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) to rival it. However, Triceratops could have been dwarfed by the majority of the members of the Sauropoda, a group of long-necked, long-tailed, lizard-hipped dinosaurs, representatives of which could claim to be the largest land living animals known to science.
Introducing the Sauropods
To put it differently, the Sauropods (the name means “lizard foot”) were Saurischian, that’s owned by the lizard-hipped clade of dinosaurs that also included the mainly carnivorous Theropods. These plant-eating dinosaurs had small heads, long necks and tails with massive bodies. Their weight was supported by four trunk-like legs and these animals were slow-moving, ponderous creatures. Some of these kind evolved dermal armour and 1 or 2 unusual genera even had tail clubs and spikes, like the armoured dinosaurs like the Stegosaurs and the Ankylosaurs. These dinosaurs appear in the fossil record in Upper Triassic strata and they survived till the finish of age dinosaurs. Sauropods could have been familiar to the kind of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurids such as Tyrannosaurus rex. It absolutely was the Victorians who first marvelled at how big is these dinosaurs. The first really big dinosaur fossil bones being wear display during the reign of Queen Victoria and it is from this point onwards that the debate regarding which was the largest dinosaur really got going.
Defining the Biggest Dinosaurs
There are many issues with attempting to identify which was the largest of the Sauropods. For a start, most of these colossal creatures are known from only a few fragmentary and not even close to complete skeletons. Although how big is a dinosaur may be deferred from a couple of bones like the femur (thigh bone) using an activity related to comparative anatomy it is not precise. The other problem is, new species are increasingly being discovered all the time and this can lead to changes in dimensions estimations. Indeed, once a new dinosaur is named and described the resulting press publicity can lead to some inaccurate size estimates becoming highlighted in the media. It would appear that adults and children too are interested in record breakers. We recall working on some papers related to the fossilised track method of a big Sauropod found in Upper Jurassic aged rocks in France. The tracks contained several metres of clearly defined and very large footprints, some more than a metre in diameter. By the time the press agencies had got hold of the story and seen a few of the photographs, there clearly was speculation that the dinosaur that walked within the soft mud that preserved their tracks was among the biggest of most time. This is simply not easy to ensure when you have only got the footprints to go on. The soft mud could have been easily compacted by the animal’s weight and the tracks distorted somewhat as a result. The fossilisation process would likewise have distorted the prints, and perhaps their size was overestimated in the press pictures as only the largest, clearest prints were photographed.
The Biggest Dinosaurs of All Time – The Contenders
Let’s start with the current record holder, the dinosaur officially called the largest known to science, at the very least for the time being. This honour would go to the South American Sauropod Argentinosaurus (Argentinosaurus huinculensis). This huge dinosaur was formally named and described in 1993. It’s only known from a couple of fragmentary bones, including a femur and some vertebrae, (backbones). what dinosaur has 500 teeth The fossils were found in Argentina, hence the name. The tallest vertebrae are over 1.2 metres high. In comparisons with better known Sauropods size estimates because of this dinosaur have been made. These estimates vary considerably, with some scientists suggesting that this dinosaur might have been over forty-five metres long and weighing something near to seventy tonnes. Other more conservative estimates as to the size of this animal have been made, with an amount of a little over one hundred feet being agreed upon by some palaeontologists. It is obviously, true that this Cretaceous giant was an enormous animal, but until more fossils are observed the real size of this dinosaur can just only be estimated. Several museums have capitalised on the popularity of the biggest dinosaurs and prepared mounted replicas of this specific giant. The greatest of those museum exhibits measures over thirty-five metres long, but here again, without more fossil evidence this display is largely speculative.
Fragmentary remains of a truly huge Titanosaurid Sauropod were discovered in southern India during the 1980s. In the beginning scientists thought that the fossils were from an enormous meat-eating dinosaur. However, in 1995 the fossils were reclassified as owned by a Sauropod, mainly because no other animal was regarded as so big. A tibia (lower leg bone), ascribed to the dinosaur was a lot more than 1.25 times how big is the same bone ascribed to Argentinosaurus. Predicated on scaling up by using this single bone as evidence, the dinosaur from India known as Bruhathkayosaurus (Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi) will be the largest dinosaur known to science. However, the fragmentary nature of the fossils found to date are keeping this specific specimen from the record books.
Diplodocus and the Big Sauropods from the United States
Some of the greatest known long-necked dinosaurs lived in what was to become the United States. Dinosaurs such as Diplodocus and Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus). However, these dinosaurs weren’t as wide-bodied as their Titanosaur relatives and not contenders for the largest, that’s the heaviest dinosaur of most time. However, there is one mysterious fossil discovery from the United States that may rival the South American dinosaurs in size. In 1878, the American palaeontologist Edward Cope described a one and a half metre long portion of a vertebrae from Upper Jurassic strata from Colorado. The entire bone could have been something like two and a half metres long, making it the largest back-bone fossil ever found. Cope named this dinosaur Amphicoelias fragillimus and some scientists have estimated that this dinosaur may reach lengths in excess of fifty-five metres, stood nine metres high at the hips and weighed something approaching one hundred and fifty tonnes. Unfortunately, the bone is no further around to be studied, having less knowledge regarding fossil bone preservation meant that this fossil crumbled into dust, it is only known from drawings made at the time. Still, if the size estimates are to believed then this dinosaur from the western United States could claim to be the largest of most time.
As for the longest dinosaur, then this is the realm of the Diplodocids but discussing these animals will have to wait for another time.
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