Fossils of ‘first giant’ dinosaur uncovered in Argentina
Fossils of ‘first giant’ dinosaur uncovered in Argentina
A dinosaur as big as a double decker bus that roamed the Earth 200 million years ago is unearthed
12 July, 2018, 22:09
The Triassic period extended from around 250-200 million years ago and the Jurassic from 200-145 million years ago. These adaptations included such things as small skulls, long necks and tails, column-like legs, rapid bone growth, and pneumatic vertebrae, where air spaces exist within the bones to make them light (a trait that still exists in modern birds).
"This reveals that the first pulse towards gigantism in dinosaurs occurred over 30 million years before the appearance of the first [true sauropods]", write the researchers in their study.
"That is why we see in Ingentia prima the origin of gigantism, the first steps so that, more than 100 million years later, sauropods of up to 70 tons will come into being, as Argentinosaurus or Patagotitan, from southern Argentina".
Ingentia prima translates to "first giant". The fossil dates back to the end of the Triassic Period, about 215 million years ago. It wasn't as large, weighing about 10 tonnes.
Is This Discovery Essential to the Evolution of Dinosaurs?
But Ingentia Prima, which was found alongside the remains of three individuals belonging to the already known species Lessemsaurus sauropoides, changes this. The remarkable discovery of four lessemsaurid skeletons forces us to rethink when, and how, dinosaurs got so huge.
What is really unexpected is that the lessemsaurids achieved their huge bodies independently of the enormous sauropods like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, which did indeed evolve later during the Jurassic.
Triassic sauropodomorphs looked different from their later relatives. It was about 10m long. The well-developed air sacs and perfectly working breathing system were highly important in the process of cooling the dinosaur's body.
Cyclic growth was common among dinosaurs of that era, but no other known species exceeded more than three metres in length and 1.8 tonnes in weight.
The bones of the Ingentia prima were found in western Argentina, in Balde de Leyes, an area where other dinosaur species and ancestors of turtles, iguanas, and mice were found. However, the newly discovered fossils show that, in fact, there is more than one way for gigantism to emerge in dinosaurs.
And they suggest that there may be even bigger and stranger dinosaurs out there, which are yet to be discovered.
The last, iconic sauropods had the benefit of a long history of evolutionary innovation in this regard, said Dr Apaldetti.
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