The Giganotosaurus was a theropod that lived during the Cretaceous Period about 99 million years ago. We know it came from today’s Argentina, but what was the Giganotosaurus’ environment like during its lifetime?
The Giganotosaurus’ habitat was believed to have been quite warm as well as windy and arid. The Candeleros Formation in Argentina where Giganotosaurus fossils were unearthed featured claystones, siltstones, and sandstones and could have been swampy as well.
In this exciting post, we’ll further examine where the Giganotosaurus came from and talk about the dinosaurs that both lived with this large dinosaur species and acted as its food source. Make sure you keep reading!
Giganotosaurus’ Stomping Grounds – Habitat in the Mid-Cretaceous Period in Argentina
The Giganotosaurus is a theropod from the Cretaceous Period. Of all terrestrial carnivores, this one is believed to be the largest, but we can’t say that for sure due to the paltry few Giganotosaurus remains that paleontologists have found through to the present day.
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The Giganotosaurus could have weighed between 4.6 and 15.2 short tons and measured at least 43 feet long with a skull that on its own was five feet in length. (Source)
Being that the Giganotosaurus was such a large dino species, it must have required a lot of space. What kind of habitat did it call home?
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Well, we know through fossil uncovering that the Giganotosaurus lived in what is today Argentina.
The aridness of the region is backed up by where fossils of the Giganotosaurus have been found. That location is the Candeleros Formation near Patagonia, Argentina. The fossils were believed to have been deposited during the Early Cenomanian Age in the Late Cretaceous Period.
In a 1988 study called The Cretaceous System of Southern South America, researchers at the Memoir of the Geological Society of America describe the Cretaceous environment at the time as very arid and warm.
The Candeleros Formation includes claystones, siltstones, and paleosols, which is a form of preserved soil. It’s through these remains that we understand that the Giganotosaurus’ environment might have been swamp-like.
The fluvial sandstones suggest the presence of some moving bodies of water, be those streams, rivers, or even both. The sandstones included both medium-grain and coarse-grain stones. The effects of the wind were believed to have been strong in this environment, although we’re not sure how far-reaching those effects were. (Source)
Now, we can’t say for certain either whether the Giganotosaurus lived near the Candeleros Formation or if it died here. We only have some fossils discovered in 1993 in the Candeleros Formation to go off of.
First, it started with uncovering the Giganotosaurus’ leg bone, then a piece of its skull. More of the dinosaur’s skeleton was then unearthed, including its fibula, tibia, femora, pelvic and pectoral bones, and then its vertebral column.
Yet that holotype is the most complete record of the Giganotosaurus to this day, and it isn’t 100 percent finished. Since the fossils were discovered in the area where the dino likely lived, we must assume until proven otherwise that it lived where the fossils were found. (Source)
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Key Dinosaur Groups That Lived with Giganotosaurus
The Giganotosaurus was far from the only dinosaur to have occupied the region where it lived. Experts do believe the dino was one of the most powerful predators, though, so what kinds of other dinosaurs might have fallen under its reign?
Here are some dinosaur groups that coexisted (or tried to) with the Giganotosaurus.
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The Alvarezsaurids or Alvarezsauridae refer to a dinosaur family known for their long legs and small size. Some paleontologists believe that Alvarezsaurids might have come from the first species of flightless birds, but it’s more likely these dinosaurs were closer to maniraptoran theropods.
Gregorio Alvarez, a beloved historian, is the namesake behind the Alvarezsaurids. Although they include many dinosaurs such as the Bonapartenykus, the Albinykus, and the Xixiankyus, it’s the Alnashetri that was most likely to share space with the Giganotosaurus.
The Alnashetri lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, and its fossils were in the Rio Negro Province in Argentina. It is very close to the Candeleros Formation.
As a coelurosaur, the Alnashetri was more bird than it was a carnivore. It’s believed to have had a crocodilian-like mouth, short forearms, very long and tall legs, and an equally lengthy tail. Yet we only have select fossils to learn from, including pedal digits, the metapodials, the metatarsus, the ankle tarsals, the fibula, the tibiae, and the femur, with most of those bones only partially available.
The Dromaesoaurids or Dromaeosauridae were theropods with feathers. They were prevalent during the Cretaceous Period. The name is a Greek term that means “running lizards,” as Dromaeosauridae were raptor-like dinosaurs.
The Buitreraptor was one such Dromaeosaurid that likely lived in the Giganotosaurus’ domain, as it too was uncovered in the Candeleros Formation. Believed to have been the size of a rooster, the Buitreraptor had lots of teeth, all small and an overly long head.
The third dinosaur group of this period was the Abelisaurid or Abelisauridae, which translates to Abel’s lizards. These ceratosaurian theropods have remains spread across Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent, South America, and Africa.
One such Abelisaurid, the Ekrixinatosaurus, had fossils in Argentina. This Late Cretaceous dinosaur, with a name that means explosion-born reptile, was found in 2004 across the Candeleros Formation.
The Ekrixinatosaurus would have had strong back limbs and a huge head, although its forearms would have been incredibly small. As the Ekrixinatosaurus has a massive head, it is most likely that it crashed onto its adversaries with its heavy head.
The average length of this dinosaur was between 26 and 36 feet long. Its upward-curving jaw and deep skull were unique to Abelisaurids.
Last but certainly not least is the sauropods, namely, the Bajadasaurus, the Amargasaurus, and the Argentinosaurus.
The Bajadasaurus was found in Argentina’s northern Patagonian region. Its fossils were only uncovered there in 2010, with findings being discussed around 2019. This dinosaur had two-pronged neural spines growing from its neck, sort of like the Amargasaurus, which we’ll discuss in just a moment.
Bajadasaurus had over 45 teeth, including some that were like pencils near the front of its mouth.
Getting back to the Amargasaurus, this Cretaceous sauropod (with a name that means La Amarga lizard) was uncovered in the mid-1980s. Unlike the Giganotosaurus and many other dinosaur species discovered around Argentina, paleontologists have constructed nearly a complete skeleton of the Amargasaurus.
That’s how we know it, too, had neural spines on its neck. The dinosaur was about 33 feet long and weighed roughly 2.9 short tons. Its head was small, its neck long, and its legs broad.
The third sauropod that lived among the Giganotosaurus is the Argentinosaurus, which, by its name, you can tell is from Argentina. This sizable sauropod was bigger than almost all land creatures of its time and would have outsized the Giganotosaurus too.
Just how big was the Argentinosaurus? Experts think this dino could have reached body lengths of 130 feet and weighed upwards of 110 short tons!
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What Dinosaurs Did Giganotosaurus Hunt?
As we established in the last section, the Giganotosaurus was believed to be among the top predators of its environment during the Cretaceous Period. Only some dinosaurs, such as the Argentinosaurus, would have been able to stand up to the Giganotosaurus, considering many sauropods, Abelisaurids, Dromaeosaurids, and Alvarezsaurids of its region were small.
The Giganotosaurus was an established carnivore, so that it would have fed on dinosaurs in the environment. Any of the smaller species that we discussed in the last section would have been fair game.
Experts believe that the Giganotosaurus might have also consumed carrion and that the dino would have scavenged if need be. It could have been done to conserve energy or maybe out of convenience. After all, if another dinosaur made the kill but left the prey behind, why not eat it?
According to this Live Science piece, the serrated, flat teeth of the Giganotosaurus would have made it easy for it to cut through prey, although it might not have bitten to take down dinosaurs since its bite force wasn’t spectacular.
Besides dinosaurs, the Giganotosaurus is believed to have shared its habitat with other creatures, including fish (ceratodontiforms), frogs (pipoids), cladotherians, the Prochelidella turtle, snakes, and the Araripesuchus crocodyliform.
Whether the Giganotosaurus ate these creatures is anyone’s guess, but since they’re all meat sources, we’d say it’s quite likely!
The Giganotosaurus lived in modern-day Argentina back in the Cretaceous Period. The habitat would have been arid, hot, and possibly punctuated with swamps, rivers, and lakes. The Giganotosaurus was practically king of the jungle in this habitat, as the dinosaur was only outsized by the positively massive Argentinosaurus.
We hope this article helped you better appreciate the Giganotosaurus!
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