The biggest animal to ever walk the Earth: Meet the Dreadnoughtus schrani

 
Sarah Spickernell
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The T-Rex would have looked tiny next to the beast (Source: Getty)
Weighing 59.3 metric tonnes and stretching 26 metres from head to tail, the Dreadnoughtus schrani would have dwarfed the terrifying T. Rex.
It may have been a harmless herbivore, but the enormous dinosaur was given its name because the excavation team that found it believed it had naught to dread.
"With a body the size of a house, the weight of a herd of elephants, and a weaponised tail, Dreadnoughtus would have feared nothing,” researcher Matthew Lamanna told CNET.
“That evokes to me a class of turn-of-the-last century battleships called the dreadnoughts, which were huge, thickly clad and virtually impervious. I think it's time the herbivores get their due for being the toughest creatures in an environment."
The 77 million-year-old skeleton was unearthed nine years ago by an excavation team working in Patagonia, Argentina. It included over 100 elements, including the ribs, the limb bones, toes, tail vertebrae and a single tooth.
With no small task at hand, it took the team quite a while to analyse the skeleton. In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, they describe the dinosaur as "the largest land animal discovered for which a body mass can be calculated."
The Elaltitan will be turning in its grave - previously the largest known dinosaur coming in at 47 tonnes, it has been shoved into second place by this latest discovery. The comparatively tiny T.rex, meanwhile, weighed just 6.8 tonnes. "Dreadnoughtus schrani was astoundingly huge," said Kenneth Lacovara, lead researcher in the excavation.
Paul Brett from London's Natural History Museum explained how D schrani could help us build a bigger picture in terms of the possibilities for life on Earth. "Ultimately, Dreadnoughtus may be able to help us understand the upper size limits to life on land, in terms of the physical constraints imposed by bone and muscle strength, blood pressure and feeding requirements," he said.
Most impressive of all is that the dinosaur skeleton wasn't even fully developed. If its life hadn't been cut short, who knows what kind of adult monstrosity it might have grown into...

(Source: Scientific Reports)

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