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Most Complete Sauropod Skeleton – Dreadnoughtus’ Surprising Fossil Discovery

Ever since scientists discovered dinosaurs, people have grown curious about their existence and lifestyle during their time. One way scientists use to elucidate these facts is through fossil finds, and one of the fascinating fossils they discovered is of the Dreadnoughtus. It was considered an excellent specimen for study. Its almost complete state made it stand out among the others.

The Dreadnoughtus was the most complete sauropod skeleton that scientists have ever discovered so far. The titanosaur fossil was over 70% complete and has given paleontologists a lot of detailed information to understand sauropods better. It was a massive dinosaur and one of the largest sauropods that walked the earth.

Fossils have always been the gateway to the past. They have always helped researchers develop facts about their biology and how these fossilized organisms may have lived before. These fossils also give clues about other dinosaur species, with only fragments of fossils found. This article will share about the discovery of Dreadnoughtus’ fossil and what makes it unique. Also, other facts about this enormous dinosaur species and other massive dinosaur species that walked the planet.

Dreadnoughtus’ Fossil Skeleton Gives Clues About Sauropods and Titanosaurs

Fossils of any dinosaur are always exciting to study. Sometimes researchers find only fragments of fossils, and on rare occasions, they can dig up a good set of bones, and one of these is the discovery of the Dreadnoughtus’ Skeleton. 

Dreadnoughtus Fossil Find as The Gateway to Sauropods Life

The fossilized remains of Dreadnoughtus were discovered from rock deposits in Argentina, particularly in southern Patagonia. This type of dinosaur lived around 77 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, during which many other dinosaur species lived. 

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The conclusive identification of Dreadnoughtus was reached in 2014 based on two fossils. Around 70% of the dinosaur’s skeleton was still intact, making it one of the most complete fossils ever found.

The excavated skeleton had intact teeth that allowed researchers to make inferences about its diet. The dentition of the dinosaur showed that it exhibited an herbivorous lifestyle. The long neck allowed them to reach leaves up high in the trees on top of the ground vegetation. 

Most sauropods during the dinosaur era are enormous, more massive than elephants and hippos but inferior to blue whales, though the living conditions in land and water are different.

The discovery of the Dreadnoughtus almost complete fossil has given significant insights to scientists and researchers to sauropods’ biology. Dreadnoughtus provides an unseen window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals on land, as all previously documented supermassive dinosaurs are known only from fragmented remnants.

The reconstruction of the skeleton allowed scientists to estimate their force, body morphology, and possible means of survival. (Source)

Understanding the Titanosaur Sauropod Dreadnoughtus

Dreadnoughtus was known to be one of the largest animals on land weighing approximately 65 tons. It has a body length of 85 feet with a typical body build of a robust trunk, long neck, and a long, stiff muscular tail.

It stood at 30 feet tall and is an herbivore. The long necks allowed them to obtain more food in the high canopies of trees. Its tail is hypothesized as a weapon against attacks where the dinosaur can swing it as a defense. 

With its massive body and a weaponized tail, it might be possible that it feared nothing during its time. Though, it might have been eaten by scavengers when it dies of natural causes. Hence the name Dreadnoughtus, which means “fears nothing.” 

Having a large body might also have its downsides, such as consuming large amounts of food to sustain the body’s needs and slow mobility. 

YouTube Video About Dreadnoughtus: A New Dinosaur Discovery

YouTube video by Drexel University which covers the amazing story of how Dreadnoughtus was discovered and shows the fossilized skeleton in detail – AdventureDinosaurs

In addition, it is placed together with other enormous dinosaurs such as Argentisaurus and Saltasaurus recorded in the early times as Titanosaurs, a subgroup of Sauropods. 

Titanosaur remains have been discovered on every continent, and they existed toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, which was around 145 million to 66 million years ago. Unfortunately, these lumbering giants became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period.

Dreadnoughtus Facts

Here are some other fascinating facts about the giant Dreadnoughtus.

If we dissect the word Dreadnought, it will lead us to dread, which means “fear,” and nought, which means nothing. Hence, a dinosaur who feared nothing because of its massive body. (Source)

It also follows the name of dreadnought battleships in the early 1920s. This battleship type was armed with significant firepower. It is also the first giant gun battleship that made a mark in history. 

Both the dinosaur and ship are worthy of the Dreadnought name, but sadly, both are also non-existing today.

Dreadnoughtus Might Have Died Due To Drowning

During the time Dreadnoughtus lived, it might have inhabited forests with mixed vegetation that was often flooded. The occasional floods would turn the sand in the area somewhat like sinking sand.

Consequently, the Dreadnoughtus sank into the sand and was unable to rise. Its fossil has been found in Patagonia, close to lakes, fjords, rivers, and Andes mountains. 

Dreadnoughtus Do Not Have A Natural Predator

The large body size of Dreadnoughtus would probably mean that it does not have a natural predator for the very reason that it will take a matching strength to defeat the largest animal on land.

There may be small carnivores that would have dared to but indeed failed. In fact, Dreadnoughtus may have been menacing and intimidating on smaller dinosaurs without any difficulty.

Dreadnoughtus Were Very Efficient Grazers

The astonishingly long neck of Dreadnoughtus could have made it a very efficient plant-eater. It can stand in one place and move its head, reaching on leaves as high as 11 feet. 

They could clear out one patch of vegetation in an hour and just move a few steps to clear the next one. Of course, this is beneficial since they do not have to exert more effort on transferring from one place to another to meet the food requirement they need.

This technique is crucial for an organism with a large body that needs to get half its body weight. This neck also can help them release extra heat in their body, serving both food acquisition and thermoregulation.

Dreadnoughtus Fossil Skeleton Is The Most Complete Sauropod Skeleton Found So Far

For some time, researchers thought that Argentisaurus was the largest based on the fossils they excavated. However, this was only based on the 3.5 percent skeleton discovered, making it hard to conclude and give this title. 

When paleontologists unearthed the remains of Dreadnoughtus, it downsized the Argentisaurus for a period. Recovering almost 70 percent of the skeletal remains and estimating its weight based on its leg circumference, researchers say that it might be the biggest ever.

Only one species was described, the Dreadnoughtus schrani. Its skeleton is housed today in the Museo Padre Molina in Rio Gallegos, Argentina.

Over time, many researchers also debated this finding and that this might just be an overestimation, and Argentisaurus is, of course, the largest, reaching almost 100 tons in weight. However, this is still subject to changes through the years once additional fossil remains are recovered. (Source)

As of now, it is safe to say that Argentisaurus is the giant dinosaur on land, but Dreadboughtus had the most massive weight known.

List of Huge Skeletons

Scientists are still looking out for the largest dinosaur that will rank first on the dinosaur leaderboard. Aside from the Dreadnoughtus, there are still others that are included in the list. Here are those.

Argentisaurus: The Largest Yet

Most of the largest fossils recovered are herbivores, and this paved the existence of the subgroup Titanosauria.

Argentisaurus was the largest dinosaur reaching up to 100 tons. It belonged to Titanosauridae that are herbivorous and evolved in the Cretaceous Period.

It is a lightly armored sauropod, and being herbivorous would be such an advantage to other dinosaurs. 

Paralititan: A Rare Sauropod

By far, Paralititan is also one of the largest sauropods who roamed the planet worthy of being on the list. It weighed around 59 tons and was discovered in the Bahariya Formation of Egypt, particularly in a mangrove swamp.

Its name means a “tidal giant” that fits the herbivorous dinosaur. Only a partial skeleton was found and no skull, so a conclusive estimate of its actual size is quite tricky. Small predators likely hunted this sauropod, but indeed it gave them a hard time. (Source)

Saltasaurus: The “Smaller” Sauropod

It is a titanosaur recovered in the City of Salta in Northern Argentina hence the name. It is considered a smaller sauropod with a weight of roughly 8 tons.

Like other sauropods, it is an herbivore but what makes it unique is the special bony plates embedded in its body that make it hard for predators to break into its skin. The known predator of Saltasaurus is Gigantosaurus which is also a massive dinosaur. 

Spinosaurus: The King of Aquatic Habitats

Spinosaurus is a carnivorous dinosaur more vicious than the T-Rex. Though in Jurassic Park movies, the fearsome character of T-Rex has been popularized, Spinosaurus might have been equal or even superior.

It weighed around 20 tons and has a double life, which means it can love both land and water. This unique swimming ability of Spinosaurus made it also a vicious predator on the water hunting other reptiles that other dinosaur species cannot do. 

The Fearsome Giganotosaurus

Another meat-eating predator was Giganotosaurus that was slightly larger than T-Rex, weighing around 13 tons. It possessed the ability to kill or attack other theropods like T-Rex or velociraptors. 

An incredible piece of information is that it can run up to 30 mph that is quite fast considering its body size.

Popular Tyrannosaurus Rex

Of course, the list will not be completed without T-Rex, which is the ultimate favorite. It weighs around 10 tons with a mighty bite. 

It is considered to be an apex predator without natural predators. It hunted Triceratops and other herbivores and could also engage in fights with other T-Rex individuals. 

Due to its popularity, it gained the title “king of dinosaurs.” Of course, this is based on its hunting ability and peculiar features. 

Conclusion

The fossil of Dreadnoughtus is such a surprising find with its excellent condition, almost 70% of the skeleton preserved. The data researchers obtained in the fossil grouped the Dreadnoughtus among the largest sauropods that walked on Earth. The good condition of the Dreadnoughtus fossil contributed to understanding the life of giant dinosaurs that were not depicted previously from just fragments of bones. Of course, there is still much information to know in such a large organism which will be the most exciting part of the Dreadnoughtus tale.