A newly described dinosaur found in the Patagonia region of Argentina was named Dreadnoughtus schrani after the massive
Rendering of Dreadnoughtus schrani in life. Image credit: Jennifer Hall.
battleships that revolutionized naval warfare in the early 1900s, and Adam Schran, who helped finance the research. An international team led by Kenneth J. Lacovara, a paleontologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, describes the fossil in the journal Scientific Reports.
Scientists say they have 70% of the key bones needed to fully describe this dinosaur. The team have more than 200 bones, representing 45 % of the skeleton and 70% of the bones behind the head. That includes the left thighbone, more than six feet tall, and an upper-arm bone, which allowed a calculation of the weight at 130,000 pounds. The team found a single cylindrical tooth about an inch long. This dinosaur would have had rows of these teeth, allowing them to strip vegetation and swallow them without chewing. They have estimated this dinosaur at 85 feet long, 30 feet tall and still growing when it died. From the microscopic bone structure it appears to have been an adolescent. It is in the group of huge dinosaurs known as titanosaurs.
Very few bones have been found from other titanosaurs so far and that is why Dreadnoughtus is generating so much excitement. It offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy, biomechanics and evolution of the titanosaurs. Dr. Paul Barrett from London’s Natural History Museum said, “It gives us the opportunity to understand things like the limits of bone strength, in terms of how you can hold up an animal of such immense size. We can now start to think about modelling its breathing, its blood pressure and how much food it had to eat to get by.”
A student of Dr. Lacovara’s is working with a Drexel University engineer using sophisticated medical models to understand how Dreadnoughtus moved. The scientists are also looking at thin slices of bone to understand how the dinosaur grew, and they even hope to extract soft tissue. Laser scans of all the bones have been done along with publishing 3-D models of each, which are freely available.
The rocks from which it was excavated suggest that the animal’s life was cut short in a catastrophic flood.