Researchers working in Argentina have discovered the most complete skeleton of a titanosaur, a group of gigantic plant-eating dinosaurs that dominated the Southern Hemisphere beginning about 90 million years ago. The new dino, named Dreadnoughtus schrani and pictured above in an artist’s reconstruction, was 26 meters long and weighed about 59 metric tons—that is, twice as long as Tyrannosaurus rex and as heavy as a herd of elephants. That puts it on a par with other well-known giants such as Argentinosaurus (but it’s four times as heavy as the perhaps better known Diplodocus). The team reports online today in Scientific Reports that it has recovered about 70% of the dino’s skeleton, including most of its vertebrae, although unfortunately the head is missing. The genus name Dreadnoughtus is from Old English, meaning “fearing nothing,” and the species name, schrani, is in tribute to the American entrepreneur Adam Schran, who helped pay for the dig. The researchers say that the beast was so big it would have had no fear of predators. And it was about to get bigger: A close examination of the fossils, especially its back and shoulder bones, indicates that the animal was still growing when it died.
*Clarification, 4 September, 2:09 p.m.: An earlier version of this story stated that Dreadnoughtus was four times as large as Diplodocus; more precisely, it was four times as heavy.