Paleontologists discovered fossilized remains of the 98 million-year-old Titanosaurus, known as the Candeleros Formation, in thick, sedimentary deposits in the province of Neuquen in northwest Patagonia, Argentina.
The 24 vertebrae of the tail and the elements of the discovered pelvic and pectoral girdle are thought to be related to the titanosaur, a diverse group of surpod dinosaurs, characterized by their large size, a long neck and tail and four-legged stance.
“It’s a giant dinosaur, but we expect to find a lot more of the skeleton in future field visits, so we’ll have the possibility to address it with confidence about how big it really was,” Alejandro Otero, Argentina Paleontologist Palta along with Museo de la told CNN via email.
Titanium fossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica. But the largest “multi-ton” varieties of the species – including more than 40 tons of titanosaurs – have been discovered mostly in Patagonia.
Without analyzing the humerus or femur of the dinosaurs, experts say that it is not possible to say exactly how much the organism weighs. However, partially recovered dinosaurs “can be considered one of the largest Titanosaurus,” experts said, with a potential body mass higher than that of a Patagotitan or Argentinosaurus.
The Patagotitane may be the largest terrestrial animal of all time in the world, and weighs up to 77 tons, while Argentinosaurus were equally arrogant, and measured up to 40 meters (131 ft) and weighed up to 110 tons – From an African elephant (up to 9 tons) weighing more than 12 times.
Experts believe that the specimen suggests the coexistence of large titanosaurs in association with medium-sized titanosaurs and small-sized ribacosaurids at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous period, which began 101 million years ago.
“These size differences may in fact explain the existence of such surpode diversity in the Neuroquin basin during the Late Cretaceous in terms of niche division,” he wrote.
Researchers said that, while they do not consider the creature to belong to a new species, they are unable to yet assign it to a known gene of the dinosaur.
The research was conducted by the Zapala Museum of Argentina, the Museo de la Plata, the Museo Agidio Ferruglio and the Universities of Rio Negro and Zaragoza.