Move over T. rex, giant new dinosaur unveiled

Posted at 6:48 AM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 06:54:37-05

If you thought the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” were big, wait until you see the newly discovered 122-foot-long dinosaur that is displayed at the American Museum of Natural History.

This dino surpasses the museum’s model of a blue whale by about 30 feet.

The prehistoric creature is so big it cannot even fit in the gallery space. Part of its 39-foot-long neck will extend through the passageway to greet visitors.

The mysterious dinosaur was discovered in the Patagonian desert region of Argentina in 2014. A team from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina led by José Luis Carballido and Diego Pol spent over 18 months excavating the site, where they unearthed the new species.

“This animal is so new it doesn’t even have an official species name yet,” said Mark Norell, chairman and Macaulay Curator at the natural history museum.

Based on the dinosaur’s characteristics it was placed in the titanosaur group. This group of dinosaurs is known for its giant lizard-like appearance. They have long necks and whip-like tails, small heads, and walk on four thick legs.

At the discovery site, scientist unearthed 223 fossil bones belonging to six individuals of this new species.

Scientist calculate that these giant herbivores weighed around 70 tons, which is about 10 African elephants.

The fossils reveal the creatures were all young adults and roamed the lush forest of Patagonia around 100 million years ago. Paleontologists believe they died in three distinct periods, but it is not clear exactly when. The time span ranges anywhere between a few years and centuries apart.

“Titanosaur fossils have been unearthed on every continent, and an abundance of discoveries in recent years has helped us appreciate the deep diversity of this group,” said Michael Novacek, the museum’s senior vice president and provost for science.

The titanosaur that is on display at the museum was cast from 84 of the unearthed remains. The creature’s thigh bone measures in at 8 feet.

Based on the size of its front limb, scientists think this titanosaur would have stood 20 feet from the ground to its shoulder, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

Curators used laser technology to scan the fossils and make digital blueprints. The skeleton on display doesn’t contain any of the fossils; instead the bones were 3-D printed out of fiberglass.

“This is the first time this skeleton has been mounted for public display,” said Norell.

The museum will have a few fossils on display, but for a limited time.

“We are pleased to present this awe-inspiring exhibit as yet another icon in an inspiring journey of discovery that the museum offers throughout its galleries,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum.

Dinosaur fans can also check out the Tyrannosaurus rex and stegosaurs when they come to visit. The new display opens to the public on Friday.