The owners of La Flecha, an area of ground located at 260 km from Trelew in the province of Chubut, contacted the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF) in 2011 because they had found something that seemed to be like fossil remains.
José Luis Carballido, CONICET researcher at the MEF, explains that this chance discovery turned out to be the fossil remains of seven species of a new dinosaur, the largest vertebrate ever found. This animal –that has not got a name yet- would be the first one of an unknown species because this does not belong to a great group of sauropods. These large herbivorous dinosaurs, which have small head and neck and large tail, lived about 210 and 65 millions of years ago, since Late Triassic to Late Cretaceous.
“This species’ length from head to tail was about 40 meters long, its height was 20 meters and it weighted 70 tons”, Carballido says. “Except for the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), this is the largest animal that inhabited the Earth”, the researcher adds.
The scientist and his team found about 70-80 per cent of the skeleton, an exceptional case in paleontology. “This new dinosaur is not only interesting for its size but also for being the most complete herbivore of the titanosaurus (great dimensions dinosaurs) ever found so far and we managed to have a precise reconstruction of how it was”, Carballido comments.
In general, in the case of the titanosaurus, scientists find a very low percentage of all the bones, so the rest is reconstructed from information of other related species, with an error rate that sometimes cannot be estimated.
How it was
The experts work with a German company specialized in modeling this type of pieces so as to prepare the presentation of this species in Trellew. The aim was to show how this dinosaur must have been, a representation of its size, musculature, skin texture and color as realistic as possible. It weights more than 15 tons and it is going to be displayed permanently in the northern entrance of the city.
“It was specially designed to stand the outdoor conditions of Patagonia”, Rubén Cúneo, CONICET principal researcher and director of the MEF, explains. “It is ready to withstand wind gusts up to 250 km/h and temperatures above 60 °C”, he adds.
The dinosaur was disassembled and transported by ship from Germany. It took about five days to be assembled.