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 a dinosaur that was bigger than seven bull elephants. The scientists 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 had a long neck and powerful 29-foot tail. It stretched about 85 feet long and weighed about 65 tons. That's more than seven times the weight of even a large male African elephant.

Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia found the specimen in Argentina's southern Patagonia in 2005. He said he can't claim it was the most massive dinosaur known. That's 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. That's determined with a standard technique that analyzes bones of the upper limbs, Lacovara 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. Its remains arrived in a large shipping container at a pier in Philadelphia. Since then, Lacovara and colleagues have created computerized 3D reconstruction of the bones. They have started to make miniaturized physical models of parts of the skeleton to investigate how the animal moved.

The bones will be returned next year to Argentina. They will be housed permanently at a museum.

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

Experts not connected with the study said the remains were remarkably complete and well-preserved. 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 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.

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 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 (82)
  • juanm-Stu
    9/08/2014 - 08:25 a.m.

    That is one huge dinosaur 7 elephant bulls and 65 tons that is about 130,000 pounds that is very Heavy and 85 feet long that is one big dinosaur

  • Savannah989
    9/08/2014 - 10:47 a.m.

    I am very interested in the study of dinosaurs, so this article called to me. It is amazing that an almost complete fossil was found and is so well preserved. I hope that fossils like these can help us understand how the dinosaurs lived, and what caused their extinction.

    • JosephTPurple
      9/09/2014 - 11:58 a.m.

      I hope that some time in the future we will have a Jurassic park (that doesn't go horrible wrong the first time someone sees it.

  • Kandace O.
    9/08/2014 - 11:05 a.m.

    WOW! THAT'S HUGE! 85 feet would scare me if I actually saw it in real life! How can something grow to be so ginormous. I also wonder how long they would be when they're babies.

  • jordene115
    9/08/2014 - 02:10 p.m.

    WOW that's huge if i saw that in real life id be scared out of my mind! my question is how big would the babies be maybe the size of elephants?

  • maxwellm-Kie
    9/08/2014 - 02:58 p.m.

    I have to say I love dinosaurs so much. Dinosaurs make me happy because they are so mysterious to just about every paleontologist. It excites me when they find a new dinosaur.

  • LeviL-Nob
    9/08/2014 - 04:14 p.m.

    The dinosaur stretched about 85 feet long. The dinosaurs bones are about 75 million to 77million years old. The new dinosaur belongs to a poorly understood group called Tyrannosaurs. It weighed about 85 pounds.They called it Dreadnought us.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/08/2014 - 09:07 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this is another discovery of a dinosaur. I wonder why the dinosaur was called Dreadnoughtus. This is an awesome discovery that people have made. But, the article said that the fossil that people found were still growing. This means that it could have been bigger. I also wonder how do scientists find out the weight of the animal. This is curious.
    Critical Thinking Challenge: How did this dinosaur get this name? What does "dread" mean? What does "naught" mean?
    Answer: This dinosaur got its name by an American entrepreneur who supported the research. Dread means that you fear something or you do not like some things. Naught means nothing.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    9/08/2014 - 09:09 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing for a dinosaur to be that big, and it to be able to stay on land without wrecking anything. I think that most dinosaurs that are big are pretty calm because they are really tall. I think that Dreadnoughts are awesome from both the name and the dinosaur itself. I hope that they will get more information about the dinosaur, so I can learn more about Dreadnoughts.
    Critical thinking challenge: How did this dinosaur get its name? What does dread mean? What does naught mean?
    Answer: I think that the dinosaur got its name because the name sounds intimidating. The definition of Dread means fear, and naught means nothing. So it means it fears nothing.

  • Wl81800darkgray
    9/09/2014 - 08:48 a.m.

    The dinosaur is so big and strong that they named it dreadnaught meaning fear nothing. I think dread means fear and naught means nothing. I wonder if this dinosaur ate meat or plants or if it got attack by anything.

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