Giant dinosaur bones get archeologists rethinking Triassic period

Giant dinosaur bones get archeologists rethinking Triassic period

"When we found the first remains of this dinosaur, we realized he was unique".

"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.

Giant dinosaurs lived on Earth nearly 30 million years earlier than previously thought, according to a team of paleontologists in Argentina, who unearthed fossils of the earliest-known giant dinosaur.

Ingentia was an early member of a dinosaur group called sauropods that later included Earth's biggest terrestrial creatures including the Patagonian behemoths Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Patagotitan. It was at least twice as large as the other plant-eaters that shared the warm, savannah environment it inhabited.

The new dinosaur species Ingentia prima and similar species are grouped together as "lessemsaurids".

For a long time, as noted, Apalette, scientists believed that their ancestors appeared in the late Triassic period, about 210 million years ago.

What is really unexpected is that the lessemsaurids achieved their huge bodies independently of the big sauropods like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, which did indeed evolve later during the Jurassic.


"Before this discovery, gigantism was considered to have emerged during the Jurassic period, approximately 180 million years ago, but Ingentia prima lived at the end of the Triassic, between 210 and 205 million years ago", the study's lead author Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti said in a news release.

Ingentia Prima was about 33 feet long, 14 feet tall and weighed up to ten tons.

Ingentia, known from two partial skeletons, was discovered in Argentina's San Juan Province.

Most of the classic creatures that come to mind when you think of dinosaurs are from the Cretaceous period, when evolution seems to have hit its stride and splashed out with things like the huge, long-necked sauropods. The partial fossil, found buried within the southern outcrops of the Quebrada del Barro Formation in northwestern Argentina, consists of several neck vertebrae, a shoulder bone, and several bones from its legs and tail. It possessed a bird-like respiratory system, related to the development of air sacs inside the body that gave it large reserves of oxygenated air and kept it cool despite its large size.

But unlike their more recent counterparts they stood on bent legs and had bones that grew thick through accelerated bursts.

"It is a new way to get body size in an early moment in evolutionary history", said Dr Apaldetti.

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