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Re: Largest Dinosaurs

> Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 13:52:22 EDT
> From: AAAAM49@aol.com
> Thanks, Mike.  Are you familiar with any recent discoveries.  I know
> some on that list are questioned due to the fossil no longer
> existing or whether it is animallian at all.

There are various rumours and undescribed sauropods that may or may
not be bigger than anything that's been formally described yet, but I
think the biggest ones are pretty much all mentioned (if briefly) in
the FAQ entry.

The strongest contenders for biggest sauropod that we have _any_ real
evidence of if probably _Amphicoelias fragillimus_, which is also a
classic tale of tragedy.  Only one specimen has ever been found, and
all that was found of that was the neural arch (top half) of a dorsal
(back) vertebra.  That portion closely resembles the corresponding
bones in diplodocoids such as _Diplodocus_ and _Amphicoelias_, and
scaling from the size of the better known bones suggests a length of
something in the range 50-60m.  The tragedy is that this sole specimen
was lost when Cope's collection was moved; so all that remains is a
sketchily drawn figure.  One has to wonder whether Cope made the whole
thing up in order to annoy Marsh.

A likely contender to take the crown in the future is
_Bruhathkayosaurus_, which is being studied by Sankar Chatterjee
(although I get the sense that he's frittering his valuable time away
on birds and other such rubbish when he ought to be getting on with
important sauropod work).  This specimen includes a 3m femur, which is
pretty damned colossal.  It's clearly not in great condition: it has
been identified at various times as a theropod femur and as a tree
trunk(!) but Chatterjee is apparently now quite sure that it is indeed
a titanosaur femur.  When he's going to publish -- if ever -- I really
don't know.  But there's every indication that when he does, it'll be
a description of an animal bigger than anything yet published.

> I know there was a recent find in Spain of a Paralititan like
> titanosaur that was 80-100 ton range.

I have seen several very contradictory reports on this specimen, plus
a photo of its humerus that looks like nothing I've seen before.  I'll
be fascinated to see that they have to say about it when it's
published, but this one -- even more than others -- seems like
unfruitful ground for speculation at the moment.

> I also believe dig that unearthed Paralititan may contain a fossil
> to a dinosaur much larger that it.

Sorry, I couldn't make that out.  I am pretty certain the expedition
that discovered _Paralititan_ didn't find anything even bigger,
though.  Josh Smith, who led that expedition, is a long-time list
member and would very likely have said something here if so.

> I recently read something on anew discovery in Argentina the last 12
> months on a dinosaur that may be larger than Argentinosaurus.  Have
> you heard or seen anything on these.

I've seen bits and pieces drifting by on this one.  It's strange
animal, for sure.  According to the brief article at
the femur is apparently about two meters long.  While that's certainly
big, it's not outrageous for a sauropod.  But apparently a cervical
(neck) vertebra is about 1.20m _tall_, which is a crazy size.
Unfortunately, those are the only measurements given, so it's not
possible to say whether this is an absurdly huge neck, or merely a
bizarrely proportioned one.  The length estimate of 48-51m (which you
shouldn't take _at all_ seriously, BTW) suggests that the cervical
vert that they're working from is _probably_ pretty damned long, too.
BUT the standard caution applies: wait for the paper.  (I know it's
frustrating.  Believe me, I am _much_ more frusatrated than you are
about this!)

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor  <mike@indexdata.com>  http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  Tom Holtz's rule of dinosaur restorations: if you can't fit
         the skeleton inside the model, the model is wrong.

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