Giganotosaurus makes Guest Appearance on TV Show

For over 100 years Tyrannosaurus rex has been regarded as the largest, most ferocious land predator of all time.  However, fossil discoveries over the last twenty years or so have brought to light even bigger meat-eating dinosaurs, colossal specimens that were not only heavier but longer than the largest Tyrannosaurs known.  One such example of a relatively new Theropod dinosaur discovery is Giganotosaurus.  Giganotosaurus roamed the plains of southern Argentina and dates from approximately 100 – 90 million years ago (Albian faunal stage of the mid Cretaceous).  The first fossils of this gigantic dinosaur were discovered in the 1990’s by a local amateur dinosaur collector and car mechanic Ruben Carolini.  The holotype species was named in honour of its discoverer G. carolini.  Surprisingly, over 70% of the skeleton is known.  Finding complete skeletons of large Theropods is exceptionally rare, for example, another Carcharodontid from Africa, an animal closely related to Giganotosaurus – Carcharodontosaurus is known from only a few fragmentary pieces of bone and skull material.

An Illustration of Giganotosaurus showing a man Drawn to Size

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Giganotosaurus is estimated to have reached lengths attaining 15 metres and might have weighed as much as 8 tonnes.  This dinosaur is due to make its first appearance on the ITV science fiction programme Primeval this evening.  Unfortunately, Nigel Marven the well-known naturalist and TV personality ends up as a snack for this carnivore, in what is an all but brief guest appearance.  Ironically, the writers and researchers make some fundamental mistakes in this episode, some that earnest young dinosaur fans will be able to spot.

For instance, Nigel Marven identifies a small Dromaeosaur that briefly makes an appearance as a Velociraptor.  There were certainly many types of small Theropod that shared the environment with Giganotosaurus in mid Cretaceous Argentina.   Animals such as Santanaraptor and Unenlagia are known from South America and date from the Albian faunal stage (Santanaraptor placidus, Unenlagia comahuensis), however, Velociraptor is a genus associated with the late Cretaceous (Campanian faunal stage), at least 10 million years after Giganotosaurus.  To compound the mistake, Velociraptor remains are associated with China, Mongolia and Russia, not South America.  Still it’s only television and it is pleasing to see a large Theropod other than T. rex get into the limelight.

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