Researchers discover new dinosaur species, oldest giant ever uncovered

Cesar Mills
July 12, 2018

The bones of the Ingentia prima were found in western Argentina, in Balde de Leyes, an area where other dinosaur species and ancestors of turtles, iguanas, and mice were found.

Ten-dinosaur weighing about ten tons was named Ingentia prima - "first giant".

"With this discovery, we can see the first steps toward gigantism occurred 30 million years before the giants dominated practically the entire planet", said Dr. Apaldetti.

Not only is the discovery important because it becomes the oldest registered dinosaur, but hints at how sauropods - the dinosaur breed with a long neck, long tail, small heads, and four thick, pillar-like legs - got so big. It was at least twice as large as the other plant-eaters that shared the warm, savannah environment it inhabited. Moreover, scientists do not exclude that "the era of giants" could have started even earlier, as nessesary, the closest relatives of Ingentia prima appeared 215 million years ago. "That in Latin means the "first giant".

A dinosaur as big as a double decker bus that roamed Argentina more than 200 million years ago has been dug up by scientists. "That's the surprise", said Cecilia Apaldetti, a government and San Juan University researcher.

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Sauropods - the largest land animals to ever appear on Earth - came from humble beginnings.

Baldetti, and her colleagues found that this was not the case, studying the remains of a unique dinosaur that her team found in the Central part of Argentina, in the province of San Juan.

The bones belonged to an herbivore called Ingentia prima. Paleontologists figured that many, if not most, of the characteristics required for bodies in excess of 10 tons emerged during the early Jurassic, but the incomplete fossil record has clouded the details of this critical evolutionary stage. 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.

Excavators uncovered several vertebrae from the neck and tail as well as fore and hind leg bones. It possessed a bird-like respiratory system, related to the development of air sacs inside the body that gave it large reserves of oxygenated air and kept it cool despite its large size. Also, its bones are lighter and present air cavities, a fact that, as the researchers showed, promoted this dinosaur species' extreme growth.

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