One of the largest dinosaur to walk this earth was discovered in Argentina’s Patagonia desert by a research team of eight, led by Dr. Kenneth Lacovra of Drexel University. Among Lacovra’s team is Alison Moyer, a Ph.D candidate at North Carolina State University.


Moyer was able to uncover parts of the skeleton of the dinosaur like the cervical vertebrae during her first dig. This new genus and species of dinosaur named Dreadnoughtus schrani is the most complete skeleton to have ever been found of a super-massive land animal. It was estimated by the paleontologists that Dreadnoughtus weighed 65 tons and was as long as 85 feet with a 37 foot neck. This means that seven Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs would fit in Dreadnoughtus, and it would have been two stories tall. Surprisingly enough this massive dinosaur wasn’t even fully developed when it died. Nonetheless, the size of Dreadnoughtus was enough to confirm it as the largest known land animal.


When the researchers were choosing names for this massive dinosaur, they wanted to ensure the name would live up to what they discovered. Lacovra was very influential about finding the correct name for this animal. “As opposed to being hapless dimwitted platters of meat in the landscape, as [sauropods are] portrayed a lot of the time, I wanted to portray Dreadnoughtus as this badass animal that deserves a lot of respect,” he stated. When they finally agreed on Dreadnoughtus — which means “fear nothing” — out of the 30 names they created, they felt it was the right fit for the dinosaur. Despite the fact that it was a plant eater, the intimidating overall size of Dreadnoughtus and its 30 foot long tail would have protected it from the carnivorous dinosaurs.


Moyer spent countless hours and months uncovering these skeletons especially the cervical vertebrae, which she would later be very fond of. When the bones were finally removed, the enormous size brought Moyer back to reality as she realized how small she is compared to them, especially the femur bone. The femur bone is 6 feet long and is inches taller than Moyer, but would tower over other people of a shorter height. “It’s pretty amazing to think that this is just [the dinosaur’s] upper leg bone.” Although the femur is the biggest bone, the cervical vertebrae will always be special to her since she worked so closely with it.


This discovery took many years to complete with over 100 bones found by the team. It was an important find and something the team needed to safely take care of while they removed the skeleton from the ground. The only concern for the team during the dig was keeping the bones intact and safe during transportation. The way the team safely transported the bones was by wrapping them in plaster jackets and placing pieces of wood to support them.


When back in the lab, the team used a 3D laser scanner to capture the digital form of the bones. By capturing the bones in the scanner, they are able to digitally curate the fossil. This prevents the fossil from taking up space. It is also easier to send the digital forms around the world to other scientists and museums.


What are your thoughts about the latest find? Feel free to share your insights via the comment section, or tweet me @tanya_ariel02.