Archaeologists unveil bones of 'biggest' dinosaur in U.S.
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Posted 10 December 2011 - 08:31 AM
The enormous bones of what is believed to be the biggest dinosaur in the U.S. have been unveiled by university researchers. A research paper produced jointly by the Museum of Rockies in Montana State and the State Museum of Pennsylvania describes two gigantic vertebrae and a femur that the team collected in New Mexico from 2003 to 2006.
The bones belong to the sauropod dinosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis: a long-necked plant eater related to Diplodocus. The Alamosaurus roamed what is now the southwestern region of the U. S and Mexico about 69 million years ago. In the paper, Montana State University researcher, Denver W. Fowler and Robert M. Sullivan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania write how carrying the the vertebrae alone was a 'killer' task taking up an entire day because the paleontologists carried them 1.2 miles through 100-degree heat.
Dr Fowler said: 'Alamosaurus has been known for some time, its remains were first described in 1922 from the Naashoibito beds of New Mexico. 'Since then, more bones have been discovered in New Mexico, Utah, some really nice material from Texas, and Mexico, including a few partial skeletons.' He said the sheer size of the new bones had caught the researchers by surprise. He said researchers had believed that a fully grown Alamosaurus measured around 60 feet long and weighed about 30 tons. But a 2009 study by another MSU researcher, Dr. Holly Woodward, led to discovery of a femur thought to belong to an adult that was still growing.
Dr Fowler said. 'This told us that Alamosaurus got even bigger, but we didn't imagine that it could get quite this big.'
The enormity of the new bones puts Alamosaurus in the same size league as other giant sauropods from South America, including Argentinosaurus which weighed about 70 tons, and is widely considered to be the biggest dinosaur of all. Dr Fowler added: 'Over the past 20 years, Argentinean and Brazilian paleontologists have been unearthing bigger and bigger dinosaurs, putting the rest of the world in the shade.
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