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New dinosaur species bigger than T-rex and heavier than seven elephants

Pieces of the dinosaur were first discovered in 2005 but it has only recently been named in a study of its bones released yesterday.

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RESEARCHERS STUDYING THE remains of an enormous dinosaur have given it an equally colossal name: Dreadnaughtus, or “fearing nothing”.

Scientists hope its unusually well-preserved bones will help reveal secrets about some of the largest animals ever to walk the earth. The four-legged beast, with a long neck and powerful 29-foot tail, stretched about 85 feet long – equal to more than seven Tyrannosaurus Rex – and weighed about 65 tons. That’s more than seven times the weight of even a plus-size male African elephant.

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Pieces of the specimen were first discovered in Agentina’s southern Patagonia in 2005 by Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia and parts of it have been pulled together over a number of years so it can be properly studied.

He said he can’t claim that it was the most massive dinosaur known, because the remains of comparably sized beasts are too fragmentary to allow a direct comparison.

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It is, however, the heaviest animal whose weight during life can be calculated directly with a standard technique that analyses bones of the upper limbs, he said. Its bones indicate it was still growing when it died.

In a study released by the journal Scientific Reports yesterday, Lacovara and colleagues describe the plant-eating behemoth’s bones as being 75 million to 77 million-years-old.

Since 2009, they have been creating computerised 3D reconstruction of the bones and have started making minaturised physical models of parts of the skeleton to investigate how the animal moved.

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We’re getting a more complete picture of this giant animal than we have for any of the other big titanosaurs that are out there,” said paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota. The bounty of anatomical data should help scientists learn about variation in titanosaurs and their evolution, she said.

“This is pretty big news,” Rogers said.

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Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan called the finding “a really great specimen.”

Among the questions it can help scientists investigate, he said, is what kind of anatomical features were needed to let a dinosaur grow so huge.

Another huge dinosaur is currently being excavated in Patagonia and scientists hope they can determine whether the two beasts are closely related or whether each came by its huge size independently.

- With additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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