If you ask “Which dinosaur was the largest”, then many will come to mind the first association – tyrannosaurus. Too often we have heard about its gigantic dimensions. However, it is not. Predators are always inferior to the largest herbivores. However, not everything is so simple with them. Scientists still cannot say for sure which individual was in the lead in size.
Paleontologists rarely find a complete skeleton. More often than not, they find bone fragments and then try to estimate height and weight.
In addition, there are three categories of the largest dinosaurs: the heaviest, the longest, and the tallest.
Which dinosaur is the heaviest
Most likely an Argentinosaurus. This super massive tyrannosaur lived about 100-93 million years ago, during the Cretaceous, in the territory of modern Argentina.
Estimates of the weight of Argentinosaurus vary widely: According to the London Museum of Natural History, it weighed 77 tons, according to the New York American Museum of Natural History – up to 90 tons, and according to BBC Earth – 110 tons. Unsurprisingly, these calculations are so different – Argentinosaurus is known for only 13 bones.
Another contender is the Patagotitan, which weighed 69 tons. He lived about 100 million years ago, also on the territory of modern Argentina. This weight was calculated based on the weight of several individuals (a total of six were found), not a single dinosaur.
How do scientists calculate the weight of an extinct animal?
There are three ways:
- Minimum shaft circumference method. Scientists measure the minimum circumference of the humerus (shoulder bone) and the femur (thigh bone) in the same person. Then they plug those numbers into the formula. The result is a high correlation with the weight of the animal. However, there are also caveats. If the humerus and femur are from different individuals, as was the case with the Patagotitan, the result would be an estimate of an individual that never really existed. The largest known dinosaur, which has a humerus and a femur from a single individual, is the dreadnought, a 65-ton titanosaur.
- Volumetric method. With this approach, researchers determine the volume of the dinosaur’s body and use this number to calculate the weight of the animal. This is not easy as most titanosaur skeletons are incomplete. Researchers have to guess how much space the lungs and other air-filled structures took up.
- Just logical guesses. So scientists estimate the weight of dinosaurs, which have not preserved the humerus and femur. Argentinosaurus, Futalogncosaurus, and Puertasaurus are examples of this. They are clearly huge, but there is no systematic, reproducible way to estimate their mass.
Which dinosaur is the longest
According to research, the longest dinosaur is the whip-tailed supersaur. It measured at least 39 m in length.
Another unusually long dinosaur, the diplodocus, reached about 33 m in length, according to a 2006 study of a specimen known as a seismosaurus at the Museum of Natural History and the New Mexico Science Bulletin.
But this category is still full of uncertainty. Some of the longest dinosaurs are extremely fragmented. For example, Sauroposeidon, sometimes referred to as the longest, tallest, and heaviest dinosaur, is only known from the sketch of a single vertebra in the notebook of 19th century paleontologist Edward Cope.
Which dinosaur is the tallest
The winner is likely to be the giraffatitan, a 12 m high sauropod that lived in the late Jurassic period about 150 million years ago in what is now Tanzania.
As for the real growth of this dinosaur, it all depends on whether these animals could raise their necks to the maximum height. Their forelimbs and shoulders look like they were lifting their necks up, but we may never know to what extent they could.