Scientists believe that a newly discovered dinosaur that weighed as much as the space shuttle could be the largest animal to have ever walked the Earth.
Patagotitan mayorum has been named, rather appropriately after both the place where it was discovered and then the Greek word for titan.
And Patagotitan mayorum was truly a titan in every sense of the word.
Making T. rex look like nothing more than a minor nuisance, this leviathan of the land weighed a staggering 76 tonnes and could grow to over 122 feet long.
While it’s unclear just how tall it would have been with a fully extended neck, the main body of the dinosaur would have been over 20 feet high.
The dinosaur was first discovered in 2012 in southern Argentina, since then researchers have been working to compile an accurate profile of the creature that belonged to a special group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs.
Of the six fossils that were discovered, scientists have dated the dinosaur to around 100 million years ago.
Rather than being vast predators, these huge slow-moving giants would have posed very little threat.
“I don’t think they were scary at all,” explained Diego Pol of the Egidio Feruglio paleontology museum in Argentina and co-author of the research. “They were probably massive big slow-moving animals.”
“Getting up. Walking around. Trying to run. It’s really challenging for large animals,” he said.
So how did these animals become so large? Researchers believe that an explosion in the plant life at the time is what caused the animals to grow in size so quickly.
Describing the environment as an ‘all-you-can-eat buffet’ there were no barriers preventing the dinosaurs from getting larger and larger.
So what does this mean for the future of dinosaur discovery? Well rather than thinking of Patagotitan mayorum as the apex of land giants experts believe that its existence simply proves that there could be even larger dinosaurs out there waiting to be discovered.