Dreadnoughtus dwarfs 7 elephants This rendering provided by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History shows the Dreadnoughtus (AP photos)
Dreadnoughtus dwarfs 7 elephants
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Researchers studying the remains of an enormous dinosaur, a creature that was bigger than seven bull elephants, have given it an equally colossal name: Dreadnoughtus, or "fearing nothing."

Scientists hope its unusually well-preserved bones will help reveal secrets about some of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth.

The four-legged beast, with a long neck and powerful 29-foot tail, stretched about 85 feet long and weighed about 65 tons. That's more than seven times the weight of even a plus-size male African elephant.

Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who found the specimen in Argentina's southern Patagonia in 2005, said he can't claim it was the most massive dinosaur known, because the remains of comparably sized beasts are too fragmentary to allow a direct comparison.

But it's the heaviest land animal whose weight during life can be calculated directly with a standard technique that analyzes bones of the upper limbs, he said. And its bones indicate it was still growing when it died.

Lacovara and colleagues describe the plant-eating behemoth in a study released Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports. He said the bones were probably around 75 million to 77 million years old.

The creature got some media attention in 2009 when its excavated remains arrived in a large shipping container at a pier in Philadelphia. Since then, Lacorvara and colleagues have created computerized 3D reconstruction of the bones, and have started making miniaturized physical models of parts of the skeleton to investigate how the animal moved.

The bones will be returned next year to Argentina, where they will be housed permanently at a museum, researchers said.

The researchers named the beast Dreadnoughtus schrani. The second name refers to an American entrepreneur who supported the research. It belongs to a poorly understood group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

Experts not connected with the study said the remains were remarkably complete and well-preserved for a titanosaur. While no complete skull was found, the remains reveal more than 70 percent of the rest of the skeleton.

"We're getting a more complete picture of this giant animal than we have for any of the other big titanosaurs that are out there," said paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. The data should help scientists learn about variation in titanosaurs and their evolution, she said.

"This is pretty big news," Rogers said.

Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan called the finding "a really great specimen."

Among the questions it can help scientists investigate, he said, is what kind of anatomical features were needed to let a dinosaur grow so huge.

Last May, other scientists announced that another huge dinosaur was being excavated in Patagonia. Wilson, who has seen some of its bones, said its size is comparable to Dreadnoughtus. He said he hopes scientists can determine whether the two beasts are closely related, or whether each came by its huge size independently.

Paul Upchurch of University College London said he thinks the recently announced dinosaur and another species, Argentinosaurus, were more massive than Dreadnoughtus. But he called Dreadnoughtus valuable for its combination of huge size and the completeness of its skeleton.

"If you're interested in super gigantic animals, this is probably the one you want to work on" to study how such beasts walked around, Upchurch said.

Critical thinking challenge: How did this dinosaur get its name? What does dread mean? What does naught mean?

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COMMENTS (11)
  • Connorba-Fre
    9/09/2014 - 01:12 p.m.

    OMG! This thing is freaken awesome. Just imagine finding something that big underground, but let alone was once walking the face of the earth. Just think if this thing was still alive today we would no choice but to let it be. I can't wait to what paleontoligist find next. Maybe the still preserved part of a once living dinosaur.

  • GD2000marine
    9/12/2014 - 01:06 p.m.

    This dinosaur got its name from be so humongous and it must've not been afraid of a tyrannosaurus Rex and crush it when it's in it's path. Dread means fearing. Naught means nothing.

  • MMichelle-Cas
    9/12/2014 - 08:14 p.m.

    This article was very amusing and informational. Who would have thought there would be a dinosaur as big as the "Dreadnoughtus". This dinosaur was the size of seven bull elephants.

  • devonm-3
    9/15/2014 - 09:51 p.m.

    The Dreadnoughtus dinosaur is a huge creature recently discovered and visualized. this Dreadnoughtus is massive, it seems to have weighed up to 65 tons. In 2005 some fossils were found around Argentina and were analyzed by scientists carefully. This mighty creature was alive about 75-79 million years ago and its fossils are still in tact millions of years later. The Dreadnoughtus is part of the Titanosaur family and there is little known about this group of species. Another fossil was found some years later and the bones look very similar to the Dreadnoughtus fossils. Many Archeologists are wondering if these Dino's are in the same family of dinosaurs. This topic interested me because I've always been drawn to dinosaurs because they were so large and majestic and rulled the world before a tragic life destroying disaster. The writing in this article was nice because it wasn't all facts it mixed in some dialog to make it interesting. Also, these facts mad my mind ask questions about when why and how this dinosaur lived died and acted.

  • r2000soccer
    9/16/2014 - 09:01 a.m.

    dinosaur get its name from its nature some are dangerous some are not dread mean some dinosaurs not dangrous the will never kill you naught means some dinosaur are naughty they wanna kill you

  • Shivas-Lam
    9/30/2014 - 12:00 p.m.

    This huge dinosaur definitely has a fitting name. "Dreadnoughtus" has nothing to fear when it's the size of seven elephants. What really gets me is the fact that it was still growing! I am a little sad that they weren't able to find it's skull. It is unfortunate it lost it's top place in size to the recent discovery of the Argentinosaurus. But anyways, 70% of any fossil is definitely a lot!

  • jacobc-Koc
    10/04/2014 - 10:00 p.m.

    this was really interesting. i got hooked to the name because usually when you see the word dreadnaught. you dont think of anything to small.

  • tristanb-Wil
    10/15/2014 - 09:13 a.m.

    I think this dinosaur is very interesting and it makes u think about what life was back then. I can agree one the name because of its size it doesn't have many things to fear.

  • GolickiL-Tan
    10/23/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    This big ole dinosaur is something America and the world will be proud about for ever. The huge dinosaur is something we should study for along time so we can learn more about there species so we can someday recreate them like in Jurassic park because that would be Cray.

  • haydenha
    10/24/2014 - 01:54 p.m.

    well dread means fear and nought means nothing and being that big I really don't think the Dreadnoughtus had much to fear. Though it was a herbivore it's massive size could still defend it. Personally I think one of those would be a lot stronger than any T-REX

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