The Titanosaur Arrives

by AMNH on

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It’s here! As of today, visitors can see The Titanosaur, a 122-foot-long cast of a gigantic dinosaur discovered in 2014 and now permanently installed in the Miriam and Ira Wallach Orientation Center on the fourth floor.

Titanosaur Unveiling
A flurry of media attention accompanied The Titanosaur's unveiling.
©AMNH/M. Shanley

One of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered, this giant herbivore was unearthed in Argentina’s Patagonia region in 2014 by a team of paleontologists from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio. One of the team's leaders, Diego Pol, received his Ph.D. degree in a joint program between Columbia University and the Museum under the guidance of Macaulay Curator of Paleontology Mark Norell.

The species is so new to science that it has yet to be formally named. The discovery was an exciting one for not just those involved, but for the field as a whole.  

“There’s nothing like finding a great new fossil—especially a big one,” said Mike Novacek, the Museum’s senior vice-president and provost of science.

Many new species of dinosaurs, and especially large species, are still being discovered outside of well-explored environs in North America and Europe, said Dr. Pol, who co-led the 18-month-long excavation of the fossil. “We are finding these creatures in South America and Central Asia, places that are much less explored,” Pol said.

Titanosaur Panel
Paleontologists Mike Novacek, Diego Pol, and Mark Norell discuss the Museum's new titanosaur.
©AMNH/R. Mickens

The fossil skeleton for this new species is much more complete than those of other giant dinosaurs, like Argentinosaurus, which is known only from a few vertebrae, said Pol. In total, scientists discovered 223 fossil bones from six individuals at the site, and the Museum's cast, crafted by experts at Research Casting International, is based on 84 fossil bones. These include a femur bone larger than a human being which, along with several other original fossils, is on temporary display near the cast during 2016.

While this titanosaur specimen is a momentous find, it’s likely not the last one that will come from the region, said Norell.

“One of the things about the titanosaurs that makes them so interesting is that they’re known from every continent,” he said. “If I was going to pick any place to go looking for them, I think where...Diego [and team] are looking would be a really good place.”

The Titanosaur is now on display in the Wallach Orientation Center.