200-million year old monster pushes back the clock on giant dinosaurs

Researchers admit the discovery of the giant dinosaur was a surprise

Analysis showed that I. prima weighed between seven and 10 tons (the largest African elephants weight between six and seven tons), and it already exhibited an elongated neck and long tail, though not almost as pronounced as those seen later.

A team of researchers dug up some ancient bones on Argentine soil that belongs to 200 million-year-old species of dinosaur. Ingentia prima, which can be translated as "first giant", grew cyclically, having stretches of time with fast growth and similar periods of time when it wouldn't grow at all. Although it has a much shorter neck and more theropod-like feet, the family resemblance is clear. According to Cecilia Apaldetti, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the University of San Juan, it was believed that the gigantism amongst dinosaurs first appeared some 180 million years ago, in the Jurassic period. "It is a true giant, especially for that moment of evolution where most of the animals that coexisted did not exceed two meters in height and the largest reached, at most, three tons". Their distant ancestors were small, agile, two-legged dinosaurs known as prosauropods.

These similarities, in particular, showed that the bones of these dinosaurs present the same "air bags" that helped them to cool themselves and maintain your body, which paleontologists find the remains of the Diplodocus and argentinosaurus.

On top of that, Ingentia also seems to have grown in seasonal spurts kind of like a tree, instead of steadily like most other animals.

Despite its size, the Ingentia prima paled in comparison to the 64-tonne giants of the Cretaceous period, when giant dinosaurs ruled the Earth 65 million years ago.

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Ingentia Prima was about 33 feet long, 14 feet tall and weighed up to ten tons. However, the newly discovered fossils show that, in fact, there is more than one way for gigantism to emerge in dinosaurs.

Scientists also suggested that there might be even bigger and stranger dinosaurs to be discovered.

Ingentia prima was a four-legged herbivore which lived about 47 million years before diplodocus.

I. prima exhibited features that allowed sauropods to become sauropods, such as an accelerated growth rate (as seen in its bone structure), and straight legs capable of supporting tremendous weight.

The last, iconic sauropods had the benefit of a long history of evolutionary innovation in this regard, said Dr Apaldetti.

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