Revelado o maior de todos os dinossauros da América do Norte

sexta-feira, dezembro 09, 2011

North America's Biggest Dinosaur Revealed

ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2011) — New research from Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies and the State Museum of Pennsylvania has unveiled enormous bones from North America's biggest dinosaur.

It is difficult to estimate body sizes from only fragmentary remains, but overlapping skeletal material indicates similar maximum sizes for the biggest dinosaurs. (Credit: Image courtesy of Denver Fowler)

In a paper published Dec. 6 in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, MSU researcher Denver W. Fowler and coauthor Robert M. Sullivan from Harrisburg, Pa., describe two gigantic vertebrae and a femur that the team collected in New Mexico from 2003 to 2006. Carrying the vertebrae alone took most of a day and was a "killer" because the paleontologists carried them 1.2 miles through 100-degree heat, Fowler said.

The bones belong to the sauropod dinosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis: a long-necked plant eater related to Diplodocus. TheAlamosaurus roamed what is now the southwestern United States and Mexico about 69 million years ago.

"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," Fowler said.

The sheer size of the new bones caught the researchers by surprise, however.

"We used to think 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, found that a femur thought to belong to an adult was still growing," Fowler said. "This told us that Alamosaurus got even bigger, but we didn't imagine that it could get quite this big."

How 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.

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The first giant titanosaurian sauropod from the Upper Cretaceous of North America

Denver W. Fowler and Robert M. Sullivan

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56 (4), 2011: 685-690 doi:10.4202/app.2010.0105

Argentinosaurus (Cenomanian, Argentina) is generally accepted as being the largest dinosaur so far discovered and is one of several giant titanosaurian sauropods known from the Upper Cretaceous of South America and Asia, but surprisingly not from North America. Here we present the first evidence of giant titanosaurian sauropods from the Upper Cretaceous of North America: two enormous vertebrae and a partial femur, from the Naashoibito Member of the Ojo Alamo Formation, New Mexico, and referred to Alamosaurus sanjuanensis. One of the new vertebrae, a posterior cervical, is comparable in size to a posterior cervical described for Puertasaurus: an Argentinosaurus−sized titanosaurian from the Maastrichtian of Argentina. This makes A. sanjuanensis the largest dinosaur from North America, and among the largest in the world. These findings indicate that A. sanjuanensis is diagnosed based on immature remains, which may have implications for cladistic analyses.

Key words: Dinosauria, Sauropoda, Titanosauria, Alamosaurus, body mass, Naashoibito Member, Ojo Alamo Formation, New Mexico, North America.

Denver Fowler [], Museum of the Rockies, 600 W. Kagy Blvd., Bozeman, MT 59717; Robert Sullivan [], The State Museum of Pennsylvania, 300 North St., Harrisburg, PA 17120.