Dreadnoughtus was a large sauropod discovered in Argentina in 2005 by Kenneth Lacovara and is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons to have ever been found. The remains that they discovered were so big and located in such a remote location that it took four years to fully excavate them. This dinosaur gets its name from its gigantic size, in reference to the dreadnought battleships of the early twentieth century. The name dreadnought means to fear nothing.
To determine the full weight and size of Dreadnoughtus, researchers used a formula that uses the circumference of the femur to determine the size of the rest of the body. This formula came up with a total weight of 60 tons or 120,000 pounds. Other researchers pointed out that there should be more room for error in the formula and believe that Dreadnoughtus would have weighed only (only!) about 30 tons, half of the original estimate. As for the length and height of the dinosaur, it likely stood as an adult 20 feet tall at the shoulder and, measuring from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, was about 85 to 90 feet long. However, this is just an estimate. Researchers believe that the specimen discovered by Lacovara was not yet fully grown and so until an indisputably adult specimen is discovered, we don’t know the full-size potential.
Due to the angle of the femur attaching to the torso, researchers are able to determine the type of walking style that Dreadnoughtus had. Their legs were splayed slightly out from the body, with their feet falling outside of their shoulder width. This type of posture is called wide-gauge. Compared to other sauropods, though, they were considerably less wide-gauge.
Dreadnoughtus lived during the Cretaceous Period about 77 million years ago. At this time, the supercontinent Pangea had broken up into Gondwana and Laurasia, with the Atlantic Ocean smaller than it is today but fully formed. The climate in South America, which was part of Gondwana, had settled into the warm, tropical climate that we know today. Many types of flowering plants were beginning to evolve in the area. However, the diversification of the flowering plants meant that many types of trees that had once been common in South America were now going extinct. Nevertheless, Dreadnoughtus would have had plenty of food to choose from.
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