The Prehistoric Giants Hall of Fame
What were the largest species of all time? Does the Tyrannosaurus rex make the list?
- By Brian Switek
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2012
Titanoboa was one gigantic snake. It lived around 58 to 60 million years ago, a scant several million years after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. It could grow 42 feet or more in length and weigh more than a ton, vastly outslithering the previous fossil record holder, a 40-million-year-old, 33-foot-long snake called Gigantophis. But Titanoboa is just one proud inductee in the Prehistoric Giants Hall of Fame. Meet the other record-holders.
(Jon Hughes / Dorling Kindersley)
Tyrannosaurus rex may be the king of the predatory dinosaurs in pop culture, but the 42-foot-long carnivore may not have been the largest. The sail-backed Spinosaurus from the Cretaceous Period might have been the longest of the predatory dinosaurs. Although no complete skeleton has been found, estimates place this bruiser at between 41 and 59 feet long.
And among the theropods, Giganotosaurus from South America and Carcharodontosaurus from the Sahara have given Tyrannosaurus some close competition. Both of these knife-toothed dinosaurs were about 40 to 43 feet long. The competition in this group is currently too close to call.