At 85 feet long and 65 tons, the newly discovered dinosaur Dreadnoughtus schrani probably didn’t have to worry about predators. Its massive size is the reason researchers decided to name it “fear nothing”—its name recalls the massive battleships, Dreadnoughts, that were built at the turn of the 20th century.
"Dreadnoughtus schrani was astoundingly huge," Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in Drexel University's College of Arts and Sciences, who discovered Dreadnoughtus in Argentina, said in a press release. "It weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex. Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65-ton specimen died, it was not yet full grown. It is by far the best example we have of any of the most giant creatures to ever walk the planet."
In a paper published in Scientific Reports, Lacovera and colleauges describe the find of the largest dinosaur skeleton for which an accurate mass can be calculated. Other dinosaur species may have been larger, but due to the fickle nature of the fossil record, only a few fragments of those dinosaurs have been found, leaving their size a matter of speculation.
Luckily for the scientists working on the project, this dinosaur had an incredible 70 percent of its bones preserved (not including the skull)—enough to come up with an estimate of this giant animal’s size.
Dreadnoughtus schrani belongs to a group of dinosaurs called the titanosaurs, the largest dinosaurs (in fact the largest terrestrial animals) that science has uncovered. It was a herbivore, and lived in what is now South America around 77 million years ago. Because of its size, the authors speculate that it was probably an eating machine, constantly taking in calories from the temperate forest where it lived in order to survive.
This particular specimen (and a smaller companion of the same species) is so well-preserved because of the way in which it died. Based on the sediments found around the bodies, these dinosaurs likely died in a huge flooding event, sinking quickly into the ground.