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New “Dreadnought” Dinosaur Most Complete Specimen of a Giant

Sometime after he calculated the size of a specimens from a new supermassive dinosaur species he discovered in 2005, paleontologist Ken Lacovara nabbed one of his son’s plastic dino toys and stood on the sidewalk outside of his house in New Jersey. He held the plastic sauropod up to his eye, trying to make a mental calculation of how an actual Dreadnoughtus schrani would have looked, standing next to the house. He decided that with its head stretched out across the driveway, the tail of the 25-meter-long Dreadnoughtus would have reached well into the backyard.

The genus name comes from the discovery team’s feeling that something this big would have, well, dread naught. “Sometimes herbivores don’t get their due as being really tough, badass animals,” Lacovara says. “At 65 tons in life, Dreadnoughtus wouldn’t be afraid of anything.” It is more than seven times as massive as a Tyrannosaurus rex. Its name is also a nod to the world’s first steel battleships, called dreadnoughts.

The fossil, being announced today in Scientific Reports, will represent one of the largest animals ever to walk on Earth. It is also the most complete fossil of a supermassive dinosaur ever found. With further study it could yield some new insights into how these late Jurassic giants moved and grew, and how their bodies evolved their extraordinary size. “It’s an interesting discovery because of the scale and of the extent of the bones preserved,” says Kristi Curry Rogers, a paleontologist at Macalester College in Minnesota who specializes in sauropods. Dreadnoughtuses are sauropods, a long-necked, herbivorous group of dinosaurs that includes apatosaurs. Not all sauropods were giant but some of world’s biggest land animals were sauropods.

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He’s finally public! Been so excited for you guys to hear about this awesome creature.

And yes, the name is epic.

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