card
373

to-be-named titanosaur

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
373

to-be-named titanosaur

OLogy Series
extinct animal

In 2012, a rancher in Patagonia, Argentina reported finding fossils on his land. This is a common find in Argentina. But after 18 months of excavation, it led to a very uncommon discovery: a new species of titanosaur. And it is one of the largest dinosaurs ever found! This massive plant-eater lived about 100 million years ago. Today, a cast of this 122-foot-long titanosaur welcomes visitors to the fossil halls at the American Museum of Natural History.

Titanosaurs belonged to a group of plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods. Which of these dinosaurs was also a sauropod, and a close relative of the titanosaur?

Apatosaurus

Triceratops

Tyrannosaurus rex

Are you right?

Correct!

Like all sauropods, Apatosaurus had a long neck and whip-like tail. In fact, sauropods had the longest necks and longest tails of any known dinosaurs. Sauropods roamed the planet for 140 million years.

When paleontologists discovered a titanosaur in Argentina, they knew it was a new species based on the shape of its:

skull and teeth

ribs

thigh bone and back bones

Are you right?

Correct!

The titanosaur’s femur (thigh bone) and vertebrae (back bones) weren’t shaped like those of any other known titanosaur species. That’s how scientists knew this one was unique.

What have scientists learned about titanosaurs from fossil footprints, or trackways, they left behind?

they could walk on two legs

they traveled in herds

they could run fast

Are you right?

Correct!

These prints tell us that titanosaurs, like many sauropods, traveled in groups that included animals of different sizes. And like other giant sauropods, they walked slowly on all four legs.

If a titanosaur ate all its daily food at a restaurant, it might order:

8,000 salads

8,000 burgers

8,000 fish tacos

Are you right?

Correct!

The titanosaur was a strict vegetarian. But to get fuel for its giant body, it needed to eat about 2,000 pounds—a ton—of plant matter a day!

Scientists estimated the new titanosaur’s weight by the length of its 8-foot-long femur (thigh bone).

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Scientists used the relationship between the circumference of the femur and humerus (upper arm bone) to estimate its weight was about 70 tons.

Sauropods like this titanosaur spent a lot of time chewing.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Sauropods spent a lot of time EATING, but they didn’t have time to chew. They stripped leaves with their rake-like teeth, then swallowed everything whole.

Titanosaur bones were incredibly dense and heavy.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Titanosaur bones were actually very light because they contained many tiny pockets filled with air, kind of like styrofoam. That’s the only way these giant dinosaurs could grow so big and still move around!

Name: a species of titanosaur so new it has not yet been named

Lived: 95 to 100 million years ago (Cretaceous Period)

Fossil Found: what is now Argentina, South America

Discovered: 2014

Length: 122 feet (37 m)

Weight: 70 tons (= 10 African elephants)

Diet: Plants

Cool Fact: With its neck stretched out, this dinosaur could have peered into the top floor of a five-story building!

Image credits: AMNH/D.Finin.