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The Biggest Dinosaur to Walk the Earth Will Soon Be in a Museum

The as-yet-unnamed sauropod was about 130 feet long and will barely fit in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

An illustration of Titanosaurs nesting — the large group the museum-bound specimen belongs to (Mark Hallett/Stocktrek Images/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has some large exhibits. There’s the 94-foot, 21,000-pound fiberglass model of a blue whale that curves gracefully over the Hall of Ocean Life. There’s the 63-foot long "Great Canoe" carved around 1878 by Native people from the Northwest Coast. But those exhibits will be dwarfed by what is to come: a 122-foot long skeletal cast of a newly discovered species of Titanosaurus, reports Margaret Rhodes for Wired.

“I don’t think people are going to be prepared for how big this thing is,” Mark Norell, the chair of the paleontology division at the AMNH, tells Rhodes. Until about 10 years ago, scientists didn’t think that land animals could even get as large as this 95-million year old creature apparently was. From looking at this specimen's thigh bone, experts estimate it could have been 130 feet long and weighed more than 80 tons when alive.

That makes even fitting the replica into the museum a challenge. Rhodes writes:

To even fit in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center, a spacious hall on the museum’s fourth floor, Norell will have to remove a model of a juvenile Barosaurus that’s been there since 1996. But even with the hall to itself, the dinosaur doesn’t exactly fit: Its back will nearly graze the gallery’s 19-foot-high ceilings, and its head and neck will protrude through the entryway doors into the adjoining elevator banks.

Fortunately, modern techniques for creating replica bones mean that this skeleton will be considerably lighter than those made in the past. Experts will assemble the new dino on site in the museum. The AMNH is no stranger to large dinosaurs on display, but the new replica will dwarf even it’s largest specimen, a 39-foot long Tyrannosaurus Rex

The creature was discovered so recently that it doesn’t even have an official name yet. Dinosaur names can be tricky to invent and this one might not even be a Titanosaur, a designation that David Clark Scott explains for The Christian Science Monitor is really a catch-all for large sauropods.  Once the dinosaur is installed in January, however, it is sure to become a favorite with museum visitors.

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