Photo: MR1805 via Getty Images
When dinosaurs first evolved, the entire earth was linked to form a massive landmass known as Pangaea. It took a long time for Pangaea to separate into the continents we know today.
The long-necked plant eaters became extinct over the northern continents, including North America and Europe. South America's long necks not only survived but became even longer as time passed.
The Argentinosaurus, the largest and most magnificent long-necked dinosaur, was found in South America. As far as experts could tell, no huge predators were roaming the continent during the Argentinosaurus era. All of it significantly changed a few years after Argentinosaurus was discovered. After being buried for 95 million years, a new creature began to rise from the stony depths of its tomb.
When the scientists assembled the bones, they realized they had uncovered a second record-breaking dinosaur. And this was not a plant-eating animal with a long neck; this was the fossil of the largest meat-eating creature that ever existed. It was given the name Giganotosaurus.
Facts About the Towering Aregntinosaurus
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Argentinosaurus is part of the Titanosaurus family.
Given its unprecedented size, it's fitting that Argentinosaurus is categorized as a titanosaur, a group of light-armored sauropods that migrated to every continent at the tail end of the Cretaceous era.
It was unsurprisingly slow.
Given its tremendous weight, it would be a surprise if Argentinosaurus could travel much quicker than it did. According to one estimate, this titan lumbered at a maximum pace of five miles (eight kilometers) per hour, causing significant collateral damage along the route.
They laid gigantic eggs.
According to research on titanosaur eggs, Argentinosaurus eggs were most likely around a foot in diameter. The females produced as many as ten or Fifteen eggs at a time, improving the chances that at least one hatchling might avoid predation and live to maturity.
They only reach maximum size at 40 years old.
Plant-eating dinosaurs like sauropods and titanosaurs grew at a slower rate than warm-blooded theropod dinosaurs. Still, we do not know much about their growth rates.
Considering the maximum magnitude of Argentinosaurus, it's hardly surprising that a young hatchling needed approximately three to four decades to mature.
It's unclear how it held its neck.
Did the Argentinosaurus elevate its neck vertically to chew the leaves of lofty trees, or did it graze in a more horizontal position? This is an unresolved question for all long-necked giants.
Given our present understanding of Argentinosaurus physiology, a vertical position would have imposed immense stresses on this hundred-ton herbivore's heart — it would have to pump blood 40 feet into the air, 50 or 60 times per minute.
Many dinosaurs compete for the title of the biggest dinosaur ever.
There are several rivals for the status of "World's Biggest Dinosaur" based on who performs the restorations and how they interpret the fossil data; unsurprisingly, they all are titanosaurs.
The three top competitors include the mouthful-named Bruhathkayosaurus and Futalognkosaurus from India and a more recently found challenger, Dreadnoughtus, which made enormous press sensations in 2014 but may not have been as large as previously stated.
We still haven't found a complete Argentinosaurus fossil.
The fragmented quality of titanosaur fossil remains is one of the most distressing aspects of titanosaurs. Finding a full, articulated skeleton is exceedingly unusual. Even then, the head is frequently absent since titanosaur skulls were readily separated from their necks after passing.
However, Argentinosaurus is more well-documented than other members of its genus. A handful or so vertebrae, several ribs, and a five-foot-long thigh bone with a circumference of four feet were used to identify this dinosaur.
Argentinasaurus flourished in South America during the Middle Cretaceous.
Most associate huge dinosaurs with behemoths like Brachiosaurus, which roamed in late Jurassic North America. Argentinosaurus existed at least 50 million years after the more widely recognized sauropods in South America, where the general public still underappreciates the range of dinosaur variety, making it relatively uncommon.
They are likely preyed upon by the Giganotosaurus.
The Argentinosaurus fossils are linked to the ones of the 10-ton carnivore Giganotosaurus, suggesting that these two dinosaurs occupied the same region in middle Cretaceous South America. These huge theropods likely hunted them in groups, leveling the playing field.
All About the Ferocious Giganotosaurus
Photo: MR1805 via Getty Images
Giganotosaurus doesn't mean giant lizard.
Giganotosaurus is Greek, meaning "giant southern lizard," not "gigantic lizard," as it is sometimes mistranslated and misspelled by individuals unfamiliar with classical roots as "gigantosaurus."
This widespread misconception can be traced back to the various prehistoric species that did utilize the "giganto" root, the most noteworthy specimens being the huge feathered dinosaur Gigantoraptor and the massive prehistoric snake Gigantophis.
They were bigger than the famous T. Rex.
Giganotosaurus somewhat outweighed Tyrannosaurus Rex: full-grown specimens may have pushed the scales at around 10 tons. Despite this, Giganotosaurus wasn't the largest meat-eating monster of all time; that distinction, pending future fossil finds, goes to the genuinely colossal Spinosaurus of Cretaceous Africa that boasted a half-ton or so advantage.
Gigantosaurus was also faster than the T. Rex.
There has recently been much discussion regarding how quickly Tyrannosaurus Rex could run. According to some scientists, this reputedly ferocious dinosaur could only reach a peak speed of 10 miles (16 kilometers) per hour.
However, based on a careful investigation of its bone structure, it appears that Giganotosaurus was a bit faster, maybe capable of sprinting at 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour or more while pursuing fast-moving prey at least for a while.
They were the biggest carnivore in South America — and preyed on the biggest herbivore.
Although it was not the biggest theropod of the Mesozoic Era, as previously stated, Giganotosaurus was the largest meat-eating dinosaur of Cretaceous South America.
Appropriately, its probable adversary, Argentinosaurus, has the distinction of "largest South American titanosaur." However, there have been other contenders in recent years.
Carcharodontosaurus was related to Giganotosaurus.
Something about big carnivorous dinosaurs encourages paleontologists to come up with imaginative names. Giganotosaurus had relatives, Carcharodontosaurus ("great white shark lizard") and Tyrannotitan ("giant tyrant"). However, the first resided in northern Africa instead of South America.
No one has discovered a complete Giganotosaurus skeleton yet.
A single adult specimen of Giganotosaurus was "recognized" using a small group of fossil remnants, typical for many other dinosaurs. Including the head, hips, and most of the spine and legs, the skeleton unearthed roughly 70% complete.
Despite its size, it had a relatively small brain.
Giganotosaurus, although being larger and speedier than Tyrannosaurus Rex, appears to have had a surprisingly low "encephalization quotient," or EQ, by middle Cretaceous criteria, with a brain roughly half the size of its better-renowned cousin compared to its body weight.
To make matters worst, based on its long, thin skull, it appears that the small brain of Giganotosaurus was around the size and weight of a banana.
The Outcome: Who Will Win This Bout?
Although no hungry Giganotosaurus would have dared to assault an adult Argentinosaurus, let's assume that a ragtag group of three adults has banded together for the occasion. The Argentinosaurus' long neck is targeted by one member, while the titanosaur's flanks are concurrently butted by the other two.
Unfortunately, 25 or 30 tons of collective power are insufficient to uproot a 100-ton opposition. The Giganotosaurus nearest to the Argentinosaurus' tail has subjected itself to a high-speed tail swipe to the skull, leaving it comatose. While the Argentinosaurus' extended neck dangles almost humorously, the other meat-eater mercilessly wreaks terrible, but primarily minor, gashes under the Aregentinosaurus' huge belly with terrible ferocity.
The Argentinosaurus would be the definite victor here.
In a nest of 15 or 20 hatchlings, only one needed to mature into a full-fledged adult to ensure the species' survival, while the rest were prey for ravenous theropods. This is why evolution favors colossal dinosaurs like Argentinosaurus.
Our Giganotosaurus team might have been victorious in its mission if it had chosen to hunt a juvenile Argentinosaurus instead of an adult. But as it stands, the hunters retreat cautiously and watch as the injured Argentinosaurus makes its way away into the distance before devouring its dead packmate.
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