It stood two stories high at the shoulder. Its tail was almost as long as a city bus. And it tipped the scales at some 65 tons – heavier than a fully loaded semi-truck.
Meet Dreadnoughtus schrani, a newly discovered dinosaur and one of the most massive land animals of all time. And it’s not just a heavyweight. Never before has anyone found so many representative pieces of a super-large dinosaur.
Whether it was the biggest or only the second-biggest dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus was unimaginably large and imposing. Though a plant-eater, it came equipped for battle with a muscular tail it could have used as a weapon and large claws on its back feet. Its size would’ve made it the king of the forests where it lived in the late Cretaceous.
“If this thing just leaned on a T. rex, it would probably kill it,” Lacovara says. Walking up to it “would be like approaching a living building. … It would be a pretty overwhelming moment, and not advisable.”
Though it could laugh off all comers, even Dreadnoughtus was not immune to the power of a river in full flood. Some 80 million years ago, a raging torrent swept away two Dreadnoughtuses – perhaps already dead – before dumping them on a bed of quicksand-like sediment.
“This is a truly huge animal,” Lacovara says. “It kind of staggers the imagination.”