The largest dinosaur ever has been found in Argentina… or, maybe not, as Brian Switek writes in National Geographic. UPDATE – it’s in the news again. Patagotitan mayorummay or may not be the largest dinosaur ever, but the American Museum of Natural History in New York added a cast of the 122-foot-long dinosaur to its exhibit – it’s so long the head and neck extend out of the gallery. I’d love to see that!
The long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs I still think of as brontosaurus (as an early find was called when I was a kid) are fascinating. How they managed that neck and tail, and supported the massive body in the middle, was so hard to imagine that they were once depicted living semi-aquatically, so swamp water could help hold them up. I am happy that scientists now see them as more active, holding those long necks out regally; it just seems right.
These creatures are usually known from very few bones, and sometimes bones of different individuals were assembled together, so a lot of extrapolation and guess-work goes into estimating size. “Prehistoric creatures ballyhooed as ‘the biggest ever’ upon discovery have a tendency to shrink by time of publication.”
The exact size doesn’t change my feelings; any 50 ton (roughly), 100 foot long (ish) creature is amazing. And, as Switek says about this latest find, “the best part of the discovery is that paleontologists have turned up many bones from multiple individuals, offering paleontologists a wealth of material to investigate how these ancient animals lived. Size isn’t everything.”