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Bones found in Argentina may belong to the world's largest dinosaur

Bones found in Argentina may belong to the world’s largest dinosaur. Experts in Argentina are reconstructing the fossilized bones of what may have been the largest dinosaur that ever lived on Earth. 

The remains of a 98 million-year-old titanosaur were uncovered in Argentina’s northwest Patagonia in 2012. The giant bones, including 24 vertebrae of the tail and elements of the pelvic and pectoral girdle, had been preserved in thick, sedimentary deposits known as the Candeleros Formation.

It was not immediately clear what type of animal had been found. In a new study published in the journal Cretaceous Research, paleontologists report that the remains belonged to a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur called a titanosaur.

The experts believe the creature is “one of the largest sauropods ever found” and could exceed the size of a Patagotitan, a species which lived about 100 million years ago and measured up to 122 feet in length.

“It is a huge dinosaur, but we expect to find much more of the skeleton in future field trips, so we’ll have the possibility to address with confidence how really big it was,” said study lead author Alejandro Otero of the Museo de La Plata.

Titanosaur fossils have been found on almost every continent, but the largest “multi-ton” individuals, including those that exceeded 40 tons, have been primarily unearthed in Patagonia.

The experts still need the dinosaur’s humerus or femur bones to accurately estimate how much the creature weighed. At the same time, the researchers believe the enormous dinosaur had a body mass as large or larger than that of a Patagotitan or Argentinosaurus.

“While anatomical analysis does not currently allow us to regard it as a new species, the morphological disparity and the lack of equivalent elements with respect to coeval taxa also prevent us from assigning this new material to already known genera,” wrote the study authors. 

“This set of extremely large taxa from Patagonia has contributed to a better understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of titanosaurs, revealing the existence of a previously unknown lineage and shedding new light on body mass evolution.”

The study is published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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