‘Sheer scale is extraordinary’: meet the dwarf titanosaur Dippy the diplodocus | dinosaurs

It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. in spring, Natural History Museum The skeleton of a titanosaur will be on display in London, a creature so large that it would have to be lowered into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse Gallery.

One of the largest creatures to ever walk the earth, Patagotitan majorum It was a 57-ton behemoth, and would have shaken the earth by stomping on the homelands that now make up modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 meters long and 5 meters tall – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus.

The museum’s dinosaur expert Prof. “The scale of this creature is extraordinary,” Paul Barrett said. “Even if you see it next to one of today’s giant animals like an elephant, it just dwarfs them. It’s humiliating.”

leftovers Patagotitan majorum It was discovered in 2010 when a rancher in Patagonia came across a giant femur sticking out of the ground. Argentinian fossil experts later excavated more than 200 skeletal fragments containing the remains of at least six individual animals.

Casts of these bones were made by Egidio Feruglio of the Museo Paleontológico in Trelew, Patagonia, and form the skeleton that will be exhibited in London in March.

“The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material,” said Sinead Marron, lead curator of the exhibition. “This means we now know more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs.”

Patagotitan majorum lived about 100 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period, near the end of the dinosaurs’ reign on Earth. It was one of the three or four largest titanosaur species now known to science. These creatures are built like suspension bridges with massive spines, wide necks for gathering food from trees, and tails for balance.

“They were herbivores that ate plants and leaves and fermented them in their large stomachs, producing large amounts of methane as a byproduct — so you wouldn’t want to hang out on the rear end of one of these animals,” Barrett said. “In fact, some people argue that plant-eating dinosaurs like these produced so much methane that they contributed to greenhouse warming, which has kept the planet in its grip.”

Marron added that although these giant creatures weighed more than nine elephants, they were smaller than a human baby. “As part of the exhibition, we are displaying a fossilized dinosaur egg, about 15 cm in diameter, smaller than a ball,” he said. “From this, the length of the animal grew to 37 meters.”

A few mysteries still surround it Patagotitan majorum, however. “A lot of places you find remains of large dinosaurs, but in Patagonia you get absolutely massive ones like the titanosaurs,” Barrett said. “So was there something special about the ecology of the region at this time, or were we just unlucky not to find titanosaur fossils elsewhere?”

It is also not clear why the six animals died so close together. “They were all almost fully grown and died in the same place,” Marron said. “But why? What could have done it? It’s not clear, although the mystery adds another dimension to the story of these amazing animals.”

Titanosaurus: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur opens on March 31 next year until January 7 2024.

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