Biggest dinosaur ever found gets a suitably epic name

Researchers announced the fitting formal name for a honking huge titanosaur that dwarfs the T. rex.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Researchers document some of the massive fossils found in Argentina.

Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio/A. Otero

If "Jurassic Park" has taught us anything, it's that some dinosaurs are bigger than others. 

Velocirapters are almost dainty. T. rex is big and scary. But the biggest dinosaur ever discovered is a colossus among behemoths. Meet Patagotitan mayorum, an herbivore that even Godzilla would find intimidating. A ranch workman stumbled across the first titanosaur bone in Argentina in 2012, but researchers just now settled on an official name for the species.

Patagotitan mayorum, which lived during the Late Cretaceous period around 100 million years ago, is one a group of massive dinos known as titanosaurs. The Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio in Argentina calls them "the largest terrestrial herbivores in the history of our planet." 

The titanosaurs could weigh in at 70 tons (63,500 kilograms). Compare that to the famed Tyrannosaurus rex, which researchers believe could get up to around 9 tons (8,000 kilograms). 

The name is a multifaceted tribute. "Patago" references Patagonia, where the fossils were found. "Titan" emphasizes the sheer size of the critters. "Mayorum" comes from the Mayo family, which owns the farm and welcomed archaeologists to the site. 

The gap between the discovery and the naming is due to the years it took to excavate the site and the work it took to be sure the dinosaurs were a new, previously unknown species.

The archaeology team published its study on the fossils today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B journal in a paper titled "A new giant titanosaur sheds light on body mass evolution among sauropod dinosaurs."

The original discovery blossomed from one bone into a set of 150 fossils representing six dinosaurs. You can visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York to get an idea of just how massive Patagotitan mayorum was. The museum houses a 122-foot-long (37 meters) cast of one of the herbivores.  

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