All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
13 01, 2016

Biggest Dinosaur Needs a Name

By | January 13th, 2016|General Teaching|Comments Off on Biggest Dinosaur Needs a Name

Giant Dinosaur from Argentina Appears on Television

The huge fossilised bones of the biggest dinosaur discovered so far are to feature in a BBC television programme which is being shown on BBC1 on Sunday, 24th January.  The fossils of a enormous, long-necked dinosaur known as a Titanosaur (tie-tan-oh-sore) were found in Argentina (South America).  One of the leg bones (the thigh bone) is so large that it cannot fit through a classroom door.

One of the Massive Bones of the Dinosaur

A huge leg bone of the dinosaur.

A huge leg bone of the dinosaur.

Picture Credit: BBC

The photograph above shows television presenter Sir David Attenborough standing next to the leg bone of this newly discovered, plant-eating dinosaur.  In the BBC television programme that is being broadcast at 6.30pm on Sunday 24th January, Sir David explains how the fossils were found and what they can tell us about a dinosaur that was probably 10% bigger than the mighty Argentinosaurus, the current holder of the title of being the biggest dinosaur known to science.

Huge Dinosaur Does Not Have a Name Yet

Palaeontologists have been busy studying all the dinosaur bones (220 of them in total) and working out what the animal might have looked like when it was alive.  Trouble is, this dinosaur has not been given a name yet.  Can you suggest a name for this huge dinosaur?

  • Perhaps we could call it “Enor-mo-saur-rus?
  • How about Gi-gan-toe-don?
  • Or even Bigg-er-saur-us?

Can  you think of some lovely describing words and then use them to come up with your very own dinosaur name?

The Bones of the Biggest Dinosaur Discovered So Far

Making TV programmes about dinosaurs is hard work!

Making TV programmes about dinosaurs is hard work!

Picture Credit: BBC

What Name Would Give to this Huge Dinosaur?

Can you give this dinosaur a name?

Can you give this dinosaur a name?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The drawing above shows you what palaeontologists think this dinosaur looked like.  The car and man in the drawing give you an idea of just how big this dinosaur was!  At the end of the television programme a life-size model of the dinosaur will be revealed, it is 37 metres long, that’s longer than many school playgrounds?

What name will  you come up with?

13 01, 2016

“Siva’s Beast” Goes on a Diet

By | January 13th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Sivatherium giganteum – Not Quite So Giganteum!

A re-assessment of an ancient prehistoric mammal that once roamed the foothills of the Himalayas, has led to the palaeontological shrink ray being employed once again.  The beast, an ancient giraffid named Sivatherium giganteum (pronounced See-vah-fear-ree-um jai-gant-tee-um) was once thought to be some form of missing link between elephants and giraffes, 19th Century scientists thought that it was about as big as an African elephant.  However, a digital reconstruction and re-examination of the fossilised bones of these herbivores has led to a new body mass estimate of around 1,250 kilogrammes (a range of 857 kg to 1,812 kg).

Sivatherium giganteum – Once Thought to be a Missing Link Between Elephants and Giraffes

Fossils found in Africa and Asia.

Fossils found in Africa and Asia.

Picture Credit: Science Photo Library

The first fossil specimen to be scientifically studied was found by Scottish geologist Hugh Falconer who accompanied the English engineer Proby Thomas Cautley on an expedition to map the terrain of the Sivalik Hills in the sub-Himalayas region of India.  A scientific paper naming and describing this animal was published in a journal called the “Philosophical Magazine Series” back in 1836.  Despite further fossil finds and the naming of a number of Sivatherium species (India and Africa), until now there had been no attempt at a complete skeletal reconstruction of the creature.

The bones that make up the skeleton were digitally mapped and then the animal was reconstructed.  The researchers, which included scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, were able to calculate a range of body masses for this impressive beast, although this new research (published in Biology Letters), suggests that the 19th Century study did over estimate the body mass by a considerable margin.

Commenting on the work of his predecessors, Christopher Basu (co-author of the new study) stated that the 19th Century team did a “beautiful job at describing it and taking measurements, although it turns out the body mass calculation was educated guesswork.”

As part of a wider investigation into the anatomy of modern giraffes, the three-dimensional computer model of S. giganteum provides a much more accurate estimate of body mass.  “Sivas Beast” had particularly robust bones and the body mass estimate provided by the earlier research was based on a volumetric measure.  However, assessment of the weight bearing capacity of the humerus (humeral circumference) and other measurements in this new study provides a more accurate reading.

Although, not quite on the scale of a modern African elephant, Sivatherium giganteum is one of the largest ruminants known to science.  Males may well have been slightly heavier than the average body weight given in this new research, they had very large horns and these spectacular appendages would have increased their overall body mass.

Skeletal Reconstruction of Sivatherium giganteum

scale bar = 1 metre.

scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Biology Letters

In the picture above the skeletal reconstruction in green (top) shows Sivatherium modelled against modern Giraffa.  The outline in purple and the bones (also in purple) provide an outline of the minimum body proportions modelled onto the skeletal frame.

Commenting on the study, carried out in association with Liverpool John Moores University, PhD student Christopher Basu explained:

“As a palaeontologist, it is really important to understand the basic question – how big was this animal?  This was probably the largest giraffe relative to have ever existed, which makes it the largest ruminant that’s ever existed.  It’s a rare animal, it’s pushing the limits of its anatomy.”

With its short neck and robust body, S. giganteum may not look much like a modern giraffe, but surprisingly, this animal co-existed with modern giraffes in Africa.  Fossil evidence suggests that Sivatherium may have survived into the Holocene Epoch.  In addition, archaeologists have discovered a series of rock drawings dating from between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago at various locations in the Sahara region of North Africa that depict animals that resemble Sivatherium.  Although, it is difficult to say beyond doubt that these images resemble Sivatherium it is an intriguing and interesting thought.

The Reconstructed Skeleton of Sivatherium giganteum

Biggest ruminant known to science.

Biggest ruminant known to science.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Biology Letters

To read an article about an ancient ruminant and its links to a Star Wars character: Xenokeryx and Giraffes – Something To Ruminate On

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